ON Friday, May 7 1999 voters in Scotland awoke to a novelty – the results of a Scottish Parliament election coming in.

They had the day before cast the first votes in electing the makeup of a democratic Scottish Parliament, now they were to see the outcome.

Unlike elections they had voted in previously under Westminster’s first-past-the-post system, they were handed two ballots at the polling station – one for the constituency vote and another for the regional list.

Labour were hot on the heels of their 1997 landslide, where they had won 56 out of 72 Scottish seats and the country returned not a single Tory MP north of the Border.

Those who stayed up to watch the results would have seen that Tom McCabe had been declared Scotland’s first MSP the previous night at 11:16pm, when he won the Hamilton South constituency.

Under the leadership of Donald Dewar (below), they won 56 seats in the first Scottish Parliament elections, on 38.8% of the constituency vote and 33.6% of the list.

The National: The late Donald Dewar

They won every constituency in the western part of the central belt and both of Dundee’s constituencies while taking all but one seat in Aberdeen and Edinburgh each.

But they were nine seats short of a majority, in keeping with the design of the Scottish Parliament which was set up to avoid one-party rule.

Alex Salmond’s SNP won 35 seats, a decent second-place, winning in seven constituencies and the rest on the list.

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Among their number were figures who, including Salmond, would come to dominate Scottish politics in the years to come, such as Nicola Sturgeon and John Swinney.

And there was Winnie Ewing (below), at that point an elder stateswoman of the SNP at the age of 70.

As the oldest member, she kicked off proceedings when the Parliament opened – then housed in the Kirk’s General Assembly Hall – with the memorable quip: “The Scottish Parliament, adjourned on the 25th day of March 1707, is hereby reconvened.”

The National: Winnie Ewing

Some of the first intake of MSPs included some wildcard options, including the Scottish Greens’ Robin Harper, Tommy Sheridan who then represented the Scottish Socialist Party, and the dissident former Labour MP Dennis Canavan, who would go on to chair Yes Scotland.

The last would continue as an independent MSP until 2007 in his Falkirk West constituency. Harper was the first Green politician ever elected to parliament in the UK.

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In the event, Labour went on to form a coalition government with the LibDems, who under leader Jim Wallace had picked up 17 seats, the lion’s share of which were constituencies.

The first Scottish Parliament election did not produce the fabled “rainbow parliament”. That came later in the 2003 election.

But it set a model for the first chapter of the Holyrood story. The LibDems and Labour worked in coalition until the spectacular victory of the SNP under Salmond in 2007, followed by their mould-breaking majority victory in 2011.

However, some things remain the same as they did in 1999.

The National:

Just as first minister-elect Swinney – who began his first spell as SNP leader just a year after the first Holyrood election – yesterday spoke of his desire to work across political boundaries in the Scottish Parliament’s 25th year, so too did Madame Ecosse in its first.

A less well-remembered part of her opening speech sees her urging members to “say goodbye to the badgering and backbiting that one associates with Westminster”.

A good 25 years on and some would still say the same to their MSPs.