THEY range from political stalwarts and activists to a penguin and a pirate.
The starting gun has been fired in the race for control of Edinburgh’s City Chambers as nominations for the city council elections on May 3 have now closed.
They reveal a total of 127 candidates competing for the 58 seats in Edinburgh’s 17 multi-member wards, with no one party fielding enough to win overall control.
The SNP is fighting with 26 candidates, Labour 23, the Conservatives 20 and the Liberal Democrats and the Greens 17 each.
As well as the main parties, the list includes eight independents, four candidates from the Scottish Anti-Cuts Coalition, four UKIP candidates, and six from the Liberal Party in Scotland.
Scottish Socialist Party leader Colin Fox is standing in Liberton/Gilmerton.
The Lib Dems, currently the biggest party with 16 councillors, are widely expected to lose seats. Eight of the current Lib Dem councillors are not seeking re-election and the party is not fielding more than one candidate in any ward.
The SNP, which currently has 13 councillors, pulled back from fielding enough candidates to secure an outright majority of the 58 seats and says its aim now is to emerge as the biggest single party in the council.
Insiders believe it could be a close fight between the Nationalists and Labour, which currently has 15 councillors, to win the largest number of seats.
The Tories are expected to do relatively well because their supporters are traditionally better at turning out to vote.
The Greens are hoping to improve on their current three seats.
The question then is which parties can form a coalition administration?
Former councillor John Longstaff is standing as an independent in Almond ward.
Another independent candidate is quantity surveyor Gordon Murdie, 56, who is standing in Southside/Newington and says he wants to uncover the truth about the property repairs scandal.
A penguin called Professor Pongoo, aka long-time campaigner Mike Ferrigan, is standing as an independent in Pentland Hills ward.
Mr Ferrigan was one of the organisers of the vigil for a Scottish Parliament which lasted for five years outside the old Royal High School. More recently was involved in the Occupy Edinburgh protest. He said he wanted more powers devolved from the council to communities.
“I want to give people a fresh idea of a new political system which could be created that involved them more in decision-making and they don’t blame ‘them’ all the time,” he said.
Computer programmer Phil Hunt is standing for the Pirate Party in Meadows/Morningside.
In East Lothian, there are 44 candidates for the 23 seats. The SNP is putting up two candidates in five out of the seven wards. Labour has three wards where it is fielding two candidates and one – Fa’side – where it is fielding three. The Conservatives have one candidate in each ward. The Lib Dems have no candidate in Musselburgh East & Carberry.
Midlothian has 41 candidates competing for 18 seats. Each of the six wards return three councillors and in all but one both Labour and the SNP are fielding two candidates.
The Conservatives have a candidate in each ward, while the Lib Dems and Greens are putting up three candidates.
In West Lothian, 62 candidates are competing for 33 seats. There are four four-member wards, including Bathgate, where the SNP is putting up three candidates and Labour is fielding two. The Action To Save St John’s Hospital group is fighting every ward, as are the Tories. The Lib Dems are standing only two candidates.
Messages flood in for Buchanan
Council chiefs have been inundated with “get well” messages for economic development leader Tom Buchanan following his surgery for a brain tumour.
Councillor Buchanan is said to be doing well after his operation.
The News revealed yesterday, left, he had undergone surgery on Wednesday to remove the tumour. The operation is believed to have been a success.
A council source said: “The economic development department has been swamped with ‘get well’ messages. They have come from across the city and beyond.”
SNP group leader Steve Cardownie said: “Everyone is rooting for Tom and hoping the recuperation goes well.”
How the voting system works
Three or four councillors are elected in each ward.
The ballot paper lists the name of each candidate in alphabetical order, along with their party name, party logo and their address.
Voters rank the candidates in order of preference, putting 1 next to their first choice, 2 next to their second, 3 next to their third choice and so on. They can rank as few or as many candidates as they like.
To be elected, a candidate must reach a set number of votes known as the quota.
The first stage of counting looks only at first preferences and any candidate who reaches the quota is elected straight away.
Any votes received over the quota are transferred to the second preference. If not enough candidates have then reached the quota, the candidate with the lowest number of votes is eliminated and all of their votes are passed to the next preference on the ballot papers. This process is repeated until three or four candidates have been elected.
You must be on the register of electors to be able to vote – but there is still time to add your name. You can register to vote for this year’s elections:
• if you are 18 or over, or will be 18 on or before May 3, 2012
• if you are a British or Commonwealth Citizen
• if you are an EU national
• even if you are homeless or living in temporary or long-term hostel accommodation
To check if you are on the register or to add your name, call the Electoral Registration Office on 0131-344 2500.
The deadline for registering to vote is Wednesday, April 18. If you want to vote by post, you need to fill in a postal vote application form. You can get this by calling the same number. The deadline is 5pm on April 18.
The Electoral Registration Office can also be contacted by e-mail at: firstname.lastname@example.org. Its website is: www.lothian-vjb.gov.uk.