Scotland's First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has held her Glasgow Southside seat, seeing off Scottish Labour leader Anas Sarwar.
The First Minister won 19,735 votes (60.2 per cent), compared to Mr Sarwar's 10,279, a majority of 9,456. However, there were positives for Labour as Mr Sarwar increased the party’s vote share by 8.4 per cent.
Speaking after retaining her seat Ms Sturgeon said: "At this stage I am extremely happy that the SNP appears to be on course for a fourth consecutive election victory and to be on course to have the privilege of forming a government again.
"If that is indeed the outcome of this election I pledge today to get back to work immediately to continue to steer this country through the crisis of Covid, to lead this country into recovery from Covid, and then, when the time is right, to offer this country the choice of a better future."
Chances of SNP majority ‘very long shot’
Ahead of the count the First Minister said she was “extremely confident” the party is heading back into power at Holyrood – although she conceded winning an overall majority of MSPs there is a “very, very long shot”.
As early results started to come in from Thursday’s Scottish Parliament elections, the Scottish First Minister downplayed the prospect of winning a majority.However, she insisted it was an “extraordinary achievement” for her party to win an historic fourth term in power.
The coronavirus pandemic means that traditional overnight counting was abandoned, with the results of seats instead being announced over Friday and Saturday.
Speaking about the prospect of the SNP winning 65 seats or more in the Scottish Parliament, Ms Sturgeon said: “A majority has always been a very, very long shot.”
During her acceptance speech the First Minister was quick to point out far-right activist Jayda Fransen, who accosted Ms Sturgeon in the street on polling day, had received a meagre 46 votes.
The SNP won an unprecedented Holyrood majority in 2011, under Ms Sturgeon’s predecessor, Alex Salmond.
But Ms Sturgeon said: “The Holyrood system is a proportional representation system, in 2011 we effectively broke that system.
“So it would be good to do, but I have never taken that for granted.
“That has always been on a knife edge, a small number of votes in a small number of seats.
She added, “We are on track in the SNP for a fourth consecutive election victory and to have the ability to form a government.
“And that is an extraordinary achievement for any political party.”
Her comments came as the SNP made the first gain of the Holyrood campaign, winning the East Lothian seat – which had been held by Labour’s Iain Gray.
Glasgow Southside results in full
Carol Ann Dobson (F A) 204
Greg Energy Adviser (IN) 147
Carole Louise Ford (LD) 504
Jayda Fransen (IN) 46
Deek Jackson (LIB) 102
Anas Sarwar (LAB) 10,279
Nicola Sturgeon (SNP) 19,735
Kyle Thornton (CON) 1,790