OPPOSITION parties must win a minimum of nine constituencies on May 5 to prevent the SNP from winning a majority of seats from first-past-the-post votes alone.
Nicola Sturgeon’s party will form another stand-alone government at Holyrood if it can win 65 or more of the 73 seats elected via the first ballot paper.
Analysis of recent opinion polls suggests the Conservatives and Liberal Democrats will struggle to win more than one constituency each, with Labour unlikely to claim any.
A seat forecaster developed by online media monitoring firm Cutbot indicates the Lib Dems could win Shetland and Orkney, with the Tories on course for a narrow victory in its former heartland of Eastwood.
The Cutbot tool allows users to enter an estimated vote share for each party, or figures predicted by opinion polls, and calculates seats accordingly.
The most marginal constituencies can change colour depending on which polls are used. The TNS sample from April 6 has the SNP winning Orkney, but a Survation poll from May 1 suggests the Lib Dems could hold the seat.
A largely suburban constituency in leafy East Renfrewshire and a key target for the Conservatives. Labour’s Ken Macintosh has won the seat at each of the four previous Holyrood elections, but faces a strong challenge from long-standing list MSP Jackson Carlaw who hopes to win the seat for Ruth Davidson. The SNP’s Stewart Maxwell will be hoping he can capitalise on a potential split vote.
Former Scottish Liberal Democrat leader Tavish Scott has represented Shetland in the Scottish Parliament since 1999 while party colleague Liam McArthur has served the Orkney constituency since 2007. The islands have remained a bastion of Liberal Democrat support, with Orkney and Shetland MP Alistair Carmichael the only Lib Dem in Scotland to survive the SNP onslaught in last year’s general election, albeit with a much reduced majority of 817.
ETTRICK, ROXBURGH AND BERWICKSHIRE
If the SNP are to win a majority of constituencies they must overcome established MSPs such as John Lamont, who increased his majority in 2011.
The equivalent Westminster constituency was won by the SNP at the General Election in 2015.
A tough seat to predict as the SNP, Conservatives, Labour and Greens all have hopes of winning. The Nationalists won the constituency in 2011 via Marco Biagi, who defeated former Labour minister Sarah Boyack. Biagi is not seeking reelection and Alison Dickie is now charged with retaining the seat for the SNP. Boyack stands for Labour again, while Scots Tory leader Ruth Davidson is also in the running. Alison Johnstone of the Greens, a former city councillor, is also in the mix.