Overview of Edinburgh

Politics of Edinburgh

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Scotland is the most administratively independent division of the United Kingdom. It has retained its own legal, religious and educational institutions. Since 1999, it also has had its own separately elected devolved government which deals with exclusively Scottish affairs. They also have representation in the UK Parliament. Executive and legislative powers have been devolved to, respectively, the Scottish Government and the Scottish Parliament at Holyrood in Edinburgh.

Scotland's head of state is the monarch of the United Kingdom, currently Queen Elizabeth II. She has ruled since 1952. This was actually a contentious coronation as there had never been an Elizabeth I in Scotland. The legal case, MacCormick v. Lord Advocate, contested the Queen's right to the title of Elizabeth II within Scotland. The Lord Advocate won the case and it was decided that future British monarchs would be numbered according to either their English or Scottish predecessors, whichever number is higher.

The Scottish Parliament is a unicameral legislature comprised of 129 Members. They are elected on a first past the post system and serve a four year period. The Queen also appoints one Member of the Scottish Parliament on the nomination of the Parliament, to be First Minister.
The Scottish Parliament has legislative authority, as well as limited power to vary income tax. However, this power has not been exercised. They may give legislative consent over devolved matters back to Westminster by passing a Legislative Consent Motion if United Kingdom-wide legislation is considered to be more appropriate for a certain issue.
The latest Scottish Parliament general election will be held on May 5th, 2011.

Scotland is represented in the British House of Commons by 59 Members of Parliament (MPs). They are elected from territory-based Scottish constituencies. The Scotland office is led by the Secretary of State for Scotland who sits in the Cabinet of the United Kingdom. The current Secretary is Michael Moore.


Scottish law is derived from Roman law. The terms of the Treaty of Union with England in 1707 guaranteed the independence of a separate legal system from that of England and Wales.

There are three types of courts: civil, criminal and heraldic.
The Sheriff Court is the main criminal and civil court. These courts hear most of the cases. There are 49 sheriff courts throughout the country. There are three possible verdicts: "guilty", "not guilty" and "not proven". Both "not guilty" and "not proven" result in an acquittal with no possibility of retrial. Scots juries consist of fifteen members.
District courts were introduced in 1975 for minor offenses and small claims.
The supreme civil court is the Court of Session, although civil appeals can be taken to the Supreme Court of the United Kingdom. The Court of Session is at Parliament House in Edinburgh.
The Court of the Lord Lyon regulates heraldry.


The Scottish National Party(SNP)
The current one seat majority. Alex Salmond, the leader of the party, was elected First Minister on May 16th, 2007 as head of a minority government.


Edinburgh is one of the 32 Unitary Authorities of Scotland. The City of Edinburgh Council is the administrative body for the local authority. They are in charge of local administration such as housing, planning, local transport, parks, economic development and regeneration. The city is divided between six constituencies with each constituency electing one Member of the Scottish Parliament (MSP). The council is composed of 58 elected councillors, elected by the first past the post system of election. Edinburgh City Chambers is the headquarters of the City of Edinburgh Council.
The Labour Party lost it's majority control of the council in 2007 after a 23 year reign. A Liberal Democrat/SNP coalition is currently in power.

Edinburgh is also represented in the House of Commons by 5 Members of Parliament elected from single member constituencies by the plurality system.

A Provost is the rough equivalent of mayor in other cities. They act as the figurative and ceremonial head of the principal cities in Scotland. The cities, Aberdeen, Dundee, Edinburgh and Glasgow, have the right to appoint the elevated status of a Lord Provost instead of a provost. Permission to use the title is granted by The Queen under the Royal Prerogative. The Lord Provosts of Edinburgh and Glasgow have the additional title of "The Right Honourable". George Grubb is the current Lord Provosts of Edinburgh.

Update 8/04/2011

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