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Scotland Act 1998

Details of Provisions

Subsection (1) provides for an extraordinary general election to be held in two sets of circumstances:

  • where the Parliament resolves that it should be dissolved.  If the resolution is passed on a division, it requires two-thirds of the total membership of the Parliament to vote in favour (i.e. 2/3 of 129 = 86); or

  • where the Parliament fails to nominate one of its members for appointment as First Minister within the time allowed under section 46.

In such circumstances, the Presiding Officer is required to propose a day for the holding of the poll.

Subsection (2) provides that, on such a proposal, Her Majesty may by proclamation dissolve the Parliament, require an extraordinary general election to be held on the day proposed, and require the Parliament to meet within seven days (see section 4 for calculation of the 7-day period).  It will be for the Parliament itself to decide on the precise date, within that 7-day period, on which that meeting should be held.  The Standing Orders of the Parliament provide for this to be determined by the Presiding Officer and notified to members.

Provisions about the form, recording and publication of royal proclamations under this subsection are contained in section 38 and the Scottish Parliament (Letters Patent and Proclamations) Order 1999 (S.I. 1999/737).

Subsection (3) provides that, if the date of a poll under this section is within 6 months of the normal date for the next ordinary general election, that ordinary general election will not be held.  However, by virtue of subsection (4), that will not affect the year in which the subsequent ordinary general election is to be held.

For example, an ordinary general election is held in May 2003.  The next ordinary election would normally be in May 2007.  But an extraordinary general election is held in December 2006.  The next ordinary election will nevertheless take place in May 2011, 4 years from the due date of May 2007.

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