Labour have won the most seats in the Edinburgh City Council elections, grabbing 20 of the 58 seats overall, in an election that saw the Liberal Democrats routed and Council Leader Jenny Dawe fail to be re-elected.
After votes in all seventeen wards were counted, the final tally came in with Labour claiming 20 seats, SNP with 18, Conservatives with 11, Greens with six and Liberal Democrats with three.
No party won enough seats for control of the council, which up until now has been run by a Lib Dem-SNP coalition. 30 seats are needed to form a majority.
In what they called “a great day for Edinburgh and Labour,” Labour gained five seats in the wards of Drumbrae/Gyle, Forth, City Centre, Leith Walk and Craigentinny/Duddingston.
Labour have spent the past five years in opposition after losing 15 seats in the 2007 elections.
Labour leader Andrew Burns retained his seat in Fountainbridge/Craiglockhart. Fourteen further Labour councillors were also returned to their wards.
Meanwhile, the Liberal Democrats saw their numbers plummet, losing a total of 14 seats and holding on to only three.
Leader of the Edinburgh Council and of the Lib Dem group Jenny Dawe was not elected in her ward of Meadows/Morningside, after polling only 1,285 votes. She blamed her loss on anti-Clegg sentiment and on a combination of national issues and local issues.
Transport Leader Gordon Mackenzie was also voted out of his ward in Southside/Newington in what was seen to be voter backlash against the mishandled trams project.
In a demonstration of just how badly the Lib Dems fared, Independent candidate Mike Ferrigan, aka “Professor Pongoo”, a six-foot intergalatic penguin, gained 74 more votes than rival Lib Dem candidate Stuart Bridges in Pentland Hills. Neither were eventually elected.
In Liberton/Gilmerton, the Lib Dems were voted out in favour of a Conservative candidate.
Other nearby councils likewise saw devastating result for the Lib Dems, with East Lothian Council losing all six of their Lib Dem councillors. Midlothian Council similarly didn’t return any Lib Dem candidates.
The Greens saw their best results yet, gaining three seats on the last election, and winning six seats overall. They were particularly successful in the wards of Fountainbridge/Craiglockhart and Southside/Newington, where they took the majority of first preferences.
The party gained seats in Inverleith, Fountainbridge/Craiglockhart and Leith, and retained their seats in Southside/Newington, Leith Walk and Meadows/Morningside.
Former Liberal Democrat Councillor Tim McKay blamed the loss of his seat on the order of the ballot paper, where successful Green candidate Nigel Bagshaw was listed first.
The SNP also saw favourable results, gaining six more seats than the 2007 local election, in the wards of Costorphine/Murrayfield, Sighthill/Gorgie, Fountainbridge/Craiglockhart, Meadows/Morningside, Southside/Newington and Colinton/Fairmilehead, giving them an overall win of 18 seats.
But their strategy of nominating more than one candidate in the same ward did not pay off for the SNP in Leith, after Deputy Lord Provost Rob Munn was not re-elected.
SNP candidate Ian McVey instead claimed victory in the ward, again prompting questions about the order of the ballot paper, where McVey appeared before Munn.
Leader of the SNP, Steve Cardownie, was returned as a councillor in Forth.
The Scottish Conservatives maintained a steady seat count of 11. Despite losing a Fountainbridge/Craiglockhart seat to Greens candidate Gavin Corbett, Conservative candidate Nick Cook took a seat in Liberton/Gilmerton from the Liberal Democrats after eight stages of counting.
The question now turns to how a new coalition will be formed. Two likely coalitions – namely, between Labour, Lib Dems with the Greens or the SNP with the Conservatives – would yield 29 seats each way, with the Lord Provost likely to have the deciding vote. A Labour-SNP coalition would see a majority of 38 seats, or a Labour-Conservative coalition would see 31 seats.
Labour leader Andrew Burns said the party would be taking its time to consider delivering the best possible deal for the people of Edinburgh. He added that he was hoping to speak with each of the party leaders over the weekend.
However, leader of the SNP Steve Cardownie said that Labour may not necessarily end up the leading party, despite being the largest, but admitted they were in the “driving seat” to run the council.
The make-up of the coalition is expected to be announced over the weekend.
Across Scotland, the SNP and Labour both made gains, with the former winning 424 seats, and the latter winning 394 seats.
Lucas McGregor-Pass, President of Edinburgh University Scottish Nationalists Association, heralded the results as a "phenomenal achievement for us, as this year we have not only won the highest number of councillors in our history but also won an overall majority in two Councils for the first time."
He told The Journal: "I personally feel that the people of Scotland have rejected the centre-right politics of the current Westminster Government and are continuing to support the social democratic policies of the Scottish National Party, the Scottish Labour Party and the Scottish Greens. "
Meanwhile, the Conservatives lost 16 seats, bringing their total across Scotland to 115.
The Lib Dems also performed poorly across Scotland, losing 80 seats and in the end grabbing only 71.