The Liberal Democrats’ delight at four wins in constituency seats – two of which were grabbed from the SNP – was tempered by the fact that they were overtaken by the Greens.
In total Willie Rennie’s party returned five MSPs – the same number as they had in the last parliament and one fewer than the Greens.
Liam McArthur convincingly held on to Orkney, despite the Nationalist campaign waged against his Westminster counterpart Alistair Carmichael following the MP’s involvement in a memo leaking controversy. Former leader Tavish Scott held on to Shetland, which, like Orkney, has long been a Liberal stronghold.
But the most notable results came in Fife and Edinburgh. Mr Rennie led by example taking North East Fife from Rod Campbell of the SNP. His win came after an energetic campaign, which saw him determined to reclaim the seat which used to be held at Westminister by Menzies Campbell.
In Edinburgh Western, Alex Cole-Hamilton won for the Lib Dems after many years of standing for the Liberals. Mr Cole-Hamilton fought an effective campaign, which was helped by the controversy surrounding the former SNP MP Michelle Thomson.
Ms Thomson, MP for Edinburgh West, resigned the SNP whip following allegations of financial irregularities concerning property deals that she has been involved in. Ms Thomson denies any wrong-doing.
Veteran parliamentarian Mike Rumbles became the fifth Lib Dem to come to Holyrood when he was elected on the North East list. He owed his success to being ranked number one on the list ahead of Alison McInnes, who was the Lib Dem justice spokeswoman in the last parliament.
The loss of Ms McInnes will be keenly felt by the party. She had earned a reputation as a good parliamentarian through her willingness to scrutinise the activities of Police Scotland. Even though the party was now behind the Greens, Mr Rennie said the tightness of parliamentary arithmetic meant his party would be influential. He said: “We had four brilliant constituency results. I think we are going to have great influence in this parliament with the SNP losing their majority I think the Liberal voice will be heard loud and clear.”
Mr Rennie said his party had worked with the SNP in the past when Alex Salmond ran a minority government between 2007 and 2011.
“What I am interested in is in getting more Liberal Democrat policies through. So we got more funding for colleges. We got support for mental health services.”