A Member of the Scottish Parliament, or MSP, is a politician who represents people in Scotland.
Each MSP represents people from a particular part of the country. These areas are called constituencies. Some MSPs represent larger areas which are called regions and are made up of several constituencies put together. The people who live in these areas are called their constituents.
MSPs hold regular meetings, known as surgeries, where their constituents can talk to them about their concerns or any problems they are having. Constituents can also get in touch with their MSP by writing to them or contacting them at their office.
When an MSP is not in his/her constituency or region, they are in Edinburgh at the Scottish Parliament. Here, they can tell the Scottish Government about the issues that are affecting their constituents.
In the Scottish Parliament, MSPs take part in debates and vote on whether new laws should be made.
MSPs also help to make sure the Scottish Government is doing its job properly by scrutinising it and asking questions.
Constituents get to decide who their MSPs are by voting at elections.
MSPs usually represent a political party. However, this is not always the case. Those who don’t represent a political party are called independent MSPs.
Anyone can stand for election as an MSP as long as they are at least 18 years old and are registered to vote.