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by Jenni Davidson
14 May 2021
Scottish Parliament’s deputy presiding officers elected after five-hour voting session

Scottish Parliament chamber - Image credit: Anita Gould

Scottish Parliament’s deputy presiding officers elected after five-hour voting session

The Scottish Parliament’s two deputy presiding officers have been elected after a marathon five-hour voting session by MSPs.

SNP MSP for Cowdenbeath Annabelle Ewing, a former Scottish Government minister, and Lib Dem MSP for Orkney Liam McArthur will take the chair in the Scottish Parliament alongside former Green MSP Alison Johnstone, who was voted in as presiding officer yesterday.

This is the first time since the Scottish Parliament was established in 1999 that there has not been a Labour or Conservative presiding officer or deputy presiding officer.

Unlike the presiding officer, who has to resign from their party and remain politically neutral, deputy presiding officers retain their party allegiance.

Johnstone was the only candidate for presiding officer, but 10 MSPs vied for the deputy roles.

Those who had put themselves forward were SNP MSPs Clare Adamson, James Dornan, Annabelle Ewing, Bill Kidd and Stuart McMillan, Labour MSPs Claire Baker and Rhoda Grant, Conservative MSPs Jeremy Balfour and Edward Mountain, and Liam McArthur from the Lib Dems.

The number of candidates and social distancing led to the long voting time, with multiple rounds of voting where the last place candidate was eliminated before another vote being taken, as well as separate elections for each of the two presiding officer posts.

Labour MSP Daniel Johnson made a point of order requesting that the voting system be replaced by single transferable vote, where MSPs would vote once and put the candidates in order of preference, but Johnstone ruled that it would be inappropriate to change the voting system part way through the vote.

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