On 5 May 2011, Scotland will be holding its national elections. The leader of the party with the most members elected to the Scottish Parliaments (referred to as MSPs) gets to become First Minister of Scotland (the name Prime Minister is reserved for the leader of the UK, currently David Cameron.) The parties are:
Scottish National Party (SNP)
Currently, the majority party of Scotland. Their platform is ultimately independence from England and the UK.They have been the driving force behind devolution (the gradual rise of self-governing, such as the return of the Scottish Parliament in 1999 after an absence of 392 years). In line with much of Scotland, their political leanings are center-left and social democracy. Its leader is Alex Salmond, who is the current First Minister.
Scottish Labour Party
A branch of the UK's Labour Party (which was in control of the UK from the mid-1990s till 2010 with two Prime Ministers: Tony Blair and Gordon Brown, both of whom are Scottish). This is the British equivalent of the Democratic Party (sort of). The party's platform is Social Democracy and leans Center-Left. Until recently, they were the dominant Scottish politcal party. Their currnt leader is Iain Gray.
Scottish Conservative Party
While never a huge influence in modern Scotland (their last major victory was 1955), with its platform of maintaining the United Kingdom and its conservative, right-center politcal leanings, it has been gaining considerable politcal ground as of late. The British equivalent to the Republican Party over here, it is a branch of the UK's Conservative Party, which regained control of the British Parliament in 2010 (which it previously controlled throughout the 1980s and early 1990s). Their leader is Annabel Goldie.
The Scottish Liberal Democrats
The Scottish Green Party
The first televised debates of the party leaders was held 29 March 2011. The entire debate from STV can be watched here (runs about one hour):