THE Scottish Greens want to form a pro-independence coalition government with the SNP if Nicola Sturgeon’s party does not win a majority of seats at Holyrood, its co-leader has revealed.

Patrick Harvie set out the ambition in an exclusive interview with The National and after some polls point to his party increasing its number of seats in the Scottish Parliament at the election in May.

At the 2016 election the Scottish Greens netted six MSPs, though it currently has five after Lothian MSP Andy Wightman left over policy differences to sit as an independent.

Earlier this month a survey by Survation suggested the Greens could get 11 seats this Spring (with the SNP winning a majority of five seats in the parliament) while a poll published in February by Ipsos Mori pointed to the Scottish Greens claiming nine seats.

Polls forecast the SNP being on course for a majority win, though there are indications such an outcome may not happen should the high profile row between First Minister Nicola Sturgeon and her predecessor Alex Salmond continue to dominate the headlines in the weeks ahead.

Harvie was open to a coalition with the SNP in 2007 but moved away from this position ahead of the 2011 and 2016 votes appearing wary that a formal relationship in government with the bigger pro-independence party could prove damaging to his party in the longer term.

But asked whether he would be open to forming a coalition government with the SNP after May, Harvie said he would.

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“We have never ruled out the idea of sitting down and talking about formal governing arrangements. We were willing to sit down and have that conversation in 2007 indeed when the numbers were a lot less favourable to us than the polls are suggesting now,” he said.

“I think given that the SNP have found that a minority government workable both in that 2007 session when there were a deep minority and in current session, where they are just below 50% of the parliament, not many people would be surprised if they thought that continued to be a workable option.

“But, yes, Greens are in government in a number of other European countries. Greens want to be in government in this country as well because we know we have the ideas that can transform society for the better ... and we have ideas that deserve to be put into practice.

“We will spend the next couple of months working to get people’s trust and get as many seats in the parliament as we can and let’s look a the consequences once we see what kind of parliament the public elect.”

Pressed on what ministerial portfolio the Greens would seek, Harvie replied: “Every political party in this election is going into the election to win as many seats as they can. It would take a dramatic turnaround in the polls for us to be the biggest party but you never want to set limits on your aspirations. But you are asking me now to negotiate what might potentially, plausibly happen after the election, but you only start doing that once you see the result.”

Asked in 2015 if he would consider coalition with the SNP if they failed to win a second majority and the numbers allow it, he said: “There’s nothing objectively wrong with coalitions,” before noting the 2010-2015 Tory-LibDem one had “been awful”.

Speaking to The National he underlined the common cause of independence and the shared approach to a new referendum. He said it would be preferable to agree referendum terms with Westminster but should that not happen his party would back a bill in Holyrood to hold a new vote.

“If you’re going to have a referendum you really want everyone to accept the rules of the game. You want everyone to accept the legitimacy of that process. It would clearly not be legitimate for them to dig their heels in and say no never, no way,” he said. “And so I think the proposal to say if they continue to stick to that position we will test the matter in courts, we will take forward the legislation and test the ability of the Scottish Parliament to legislate without a Section 30 is a perfectly legitimate approach to take.

“The preferable position to be in is one where you don’t have to leave it in the hands of the courts, where you have a political recognition that there is a democratic result. “