When an MSP is elected but has not been put forward by a party they are considered as independent / no party affiliation. An MSP may also become independent if they withdraw membership from a party or are removed by the party as a member during their tenure as an MSP.

An independent MSP does not have allegiance to a particular political party and is not bound to vote in accordance with a party chief whip. Under certain circumstances an independent may align with a political party as part of a coalition deal