Scotland politics

Scottish council election: SNP and Labour to look at coalition deals

council election victory comp
Image caption Labour and the SNP both celebrated after Thursday's election

The SNP and Labour have said they are prepared to form coalitions in some of the 23 hung councils in Scotland.

Nationalist leader Alex Salmond and Labour leader Johann Lamont believed deals should be done if they benefited local people.

The pair spoke to BBC's Sunday Politics Scotland in the wake of their parties performing well in Thursday's local government election.

The SNP has 424 seats, while Labour has 394, the Tories 115 and Lib Dems 71.

Despite losing 16 seats, Scottish Conservative leader Ruth Davidson said her party may hold the balance of power in a number of places across Scotland.

She said: "We're the biggest party in two areas, we hold the balance of power in three of six cities and in a number of areas.

"My local group leaders are empowered to make the decisions that are best for people on the ground."

Scottish Lib Dem leader Willie Rennie, whose party took a battering at the poll, said any coalitions must be for the full five years.

He added: "We still have over 70 councillors, many of them in quite significant groups in Fife, Aberdeenshire, the Highlands. In those places we've done pretty well, in Perth and Kinross likewise.

"We're still significant players in parts of the country."

Mr Salmond said local parties would be free to determine how they discussed power-sharing.

He told the BBC: "Our council groups are free to make alliances with any other democratic party.

"Where it's appropriate and good for the people locally, they're absolutely free to do that.

"The circumstances will change from council to council but I think you'll find at the end of the day the SNP are playing a leading role in many, many councils across Scotland - more than we did last week.

"I'm quite confident we will be in more administrations."

Negotiations continue

Mr Salmond said his party won the election nationally, gaining most councillors overall and a higher share of first preference votes.

But the SNP did not take Glasgow, its key target, and ended up with fewer seats than Labour in Aberdeen and Edinburgh.

The SNP has a majority in two councils compared with Labour's four.

Ms Lamont said her party made good gains, including inroads for the first time in Aberdeenshire.

She said: "In this regard I'm the same as the first minister. We recognise there are different discussions going on across Scotland.

"What I have said and Labour councillors are very clear, that in negotiations we start from first principle."

On whether Labour could do a deal with the SNP, she said: "We certainly could. We have said nothing is off the table."

It may take several days before it becomes clear who is in power in each of the 23 councils with no party in overall control.