What are the council elections?

The council elections are held every five years and determine who will run local authorities.

There are 32 local authorities in Scotland and they are responsible for running vital local services, including schools, roads, parks and bins among others.

Local authorities are responsible for collecting council tax and have the power to issue fines for things such as parking offences and fly-tipping.  

How are councils made up? 

Councils are made up of a certain number of councillors, which varies greatly from place to place – the smallest is Orkney Islands Council with just 21 councillors, while Glasgow City Council, the largest in Scotland, has 85.

READ MORE: Local council elections - What is the STV voting system?

Councillors are elected through a complex system called single transferrable vote (STV), in which voters rank candidates in order of preference.

Some campaigners encourage voters to adopt a “Vote Till You Boak” tactic, which involves ranking every candidate, even ones you would not vote for. Advocates of this system say ranking candidates you do not like effectively counts as a vote against them.

Most wards are represented by three or four councillors and some in sparsely populated areas such as the islands are only represented by two members, like the North Isles ward in Orkney.

This means that there will always be more than one councillor responsible for your area who you can contact about local issues and it is unlikely all will be from the same political party.

Councils are divided up into smaller areas called wards. There are 355 wards in Scotland and no party is contesting every single one.

The party that comes closest is the SNP which is contesting 337, according to analysis by Ballot Box Scotland (BBS). The Tories come second with 333 candidates and Labour third with 302.

Who will win the council elections? 

It is unlikely any party will command a majority on any council and in many local authorities, parties are not fielding enough candidates to do so.

This said, it is likely the SNP will remain the largest party and even increase their share of the vote.

READ MORE: Should you rank all the candidates in the Scottish local council elections?

Nicola Sturgeon’s party is predicted to take 44% of the vote, according to a poll by Survation, commissioned by BBS, while the Tories are expected to fall into third place, with Labour becoming the second-largest party in terms of councillors.

Participation in council elections is typically lower than in Holyrood and Westminster elections, from both voters and the parties. Some councillors have already been de facto elected because after nominations closed, there were only three candidates contesting a three-member ward.

How do I vote?

Voting can be done in a number of ways. You can cast your ballot in person at your local polling station, the location of which you should be able to find on your polling card.

If you have not received your polling card, you should ensure you are registered to vote or if you have lost it, you can find out by entering your postcode at this website.

READ MORE: What ward am I in? How to find out your council ward for the local elections

If you will be unable to attend your local polling station, you can arrange for a proxy vote or a postal vote.

The deadline to register to vote in the elections was April 18, 2022, which means if you have not registered already it is too late to do so.