Contrary to popular belief, coalition governments are generally stable and usually last their full term. What has unfolded in Scotland therefore requires some explaining. Broadly, first minister Humza Yousaf, of the pro-independence Scottish National Party (SNP), abruptly terminated an agreement with his governing partners, the Scottish Greens, before they had a chance to do the same. The move backfired almost immediately and Yousaf ended up resigning.

But how did he get into this situation in the first place?

In the Scottish election of 2021, the SNP won 64 out of 129 seats in parliament – one shy of an overall majority. A minority government was a feasible option (and had been how the SNP governed following similar results in 2007 and 2016). However, the party, under then-leader Nicola Sturgeon, chose instead to form a coalition with the Greens. The Greens are also supportive of Scottish independence and had collaborated frequently with the SNP in the 2016-2021 parliament. While this term had not been a disaster, the SNP had grown tired of seeking opposition support for every bill and yearned for the certainty of a coalition.

From the Greens’ perspective, too, a coalition made sense. The SNP’s one-seat gain meant an effective government-opposition tie in parliament, diminishing the ability of opposition parties to influence legislation. An agreement seemed the best chance for impact. The two parties therefore drew up the Bute House agreement – a loose coalition which included junior ministerial positions for the Greens and a shared policy platform, but substantial opt-outs.

Want to see more SNP fails? – Health Matters

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