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Sturgeon's allies to play hardball as SNP chief falls two short of a majority

By PA Reporters

Nicola Sturgeon has announced she will lead a minority administration in Scotland - but her potential allies have warned she will not get an easy ride implementing the Scottish National Party's (SNP) programme for government.

Ms Sturgeon will ask Members of the Scottish Parliament to re-elect her as First Minister after her party won 63 seats at Holyrood, two short of a majority.

With no overall majority, Ms Sturgeon will need the support of other parties to secure her place as First Minister.

The Tories won a record success, up from 15 seats in 2011 to 31, while Labour lost 13 seats.

With the SNP minority, both the Greens and Liberal Democrats - with six seats and five seats respectively - could play significant roles in helping Ms Sturgeon pass her legislative programme. The Scottish Greens, who propped up the last SNP minority in 2007, said they intend to push the SNP "beyond its comfort zone".

The Liberal Democrats, veteran coalition builders with a reputation for compromise, insisted the "arrogant" SNP now needs "a change of attitude".

The Scottish Conservatives, who won a number of concessions from Alex Salmond's minority administration, are Holyrood's second biggest grouping, and leader Ruth Davidson pledged to "work constructively where required" but "provide challenge where they do not listen".

The Tories and the Lib Dems insisted the one thing they will not compromise on is another independence referendum.

Ms Sturgeon said she will continue "to persuade, not to divide" on independence and urged other parties to "respect the opinion of the people".

Kezia Dugdale has pledged to continue as Scottish Labour leader following its worst ever result, and said she will "keep fighting for Labour values".

Ms Sturgeon said: "We won a clear and unequivocal mandate, and I secured the personal mandate I sought to implement the bold and ambitious programme for government that I asked the country to vote for.

"So, I can confirm that when it reconvenes in the coming days, I will ask the Scottish Parliament to formally re-elect me as the First Minister of Scotland. With such a large group of MSPs elected, I don't intend to seek any formal arrangement with any other parties."

Belfast Telegraph


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