A new Holyrood government may emerge quietly over the summer, when much of Scotland is on vacation.
Following their fourth Scottish Parliament election victory, it will still be governed by Nicola Sturgeon and the SNP.
It may, however, grow to accommodate the first ever Green Party ministers in the UK.
The two parties are negotiating a formal cooperation agreement that may lead to the Greens and some of its policy goals being implemented in government. This type of collaboration is not necessarily essential.
With 64 of the 129 seats in parliament, the SNP can govern on their own, seeking cooperation from the Greens or others on an issue-by-issue basis. This is minority rule. It is how the SNP operated from 2007 to 2011, and it is how it is been since 2016.
However, in the previous parliament, they were regularly outvoted by the combined power of the opposition, forcing them to make compromises in order to avoid losing confidence votes.
They did not appreciate the experience, and as one government official described it, this time they want “a degree of added stability and policy predictability.”
This is what they had from 2011 to 2016, when they were able to create a majority government by winning enough SNP seats to get things done without the assistance of other parties.
This is an extremely tough conclusion to replicate under Holyrood’s proportional voting system.
During the first two sessions of the Scottish Parliament, a coalition of two parties – Labour and the Liberal Democrats – developed an agreed-upon platform and created a majority government together.
When David Cameron and Nick Clegg teamed up at Westminster in 2010-2015, the Conservatives and Liberal Democrats did the same.
What is being explored today is something different: a partnership that stops short of a complete coalition but goes beyond the confidence and supply agreement reached between the DUP and Prime Minister Theresa May in 2017.
In exchange for concessions, the smaller party promises to vote for the government’s budget and support it in confidence votes under confidence and supply.
The SNP would definitely like that from the Greens, but both parties are looking at the aspects of a joint policy agenda they can agree on.
Their negotiations have now progressed to a new stage in which individual SNP ministers are having more extensive policy discussions with the Greens.
The two parties have already agreed on six main topics of discussion. These are the concerns of Covid recovery, climate change, and the constitution, as well as public services, infrastructure, and equality.
It is not difficult to envisage them agreeing on additional carbon-cutting measures or planning for another independence vote – areas where they are currently pretty close.
They are so far apart on some other issues that compromise may be impossible.
The SNP is unlikely to embrace Green proposals for increased wealth taxes or to phase out open-cage fish farming, which salmon farmers claim would have a “catastrophic effect” on their sector.
Similarly, the Greens are unlikely to support the SNP’s road-building agenda, which includes dualling key highways such as the A9, or the party’s ongoing support for oil and gas production.
According to Green co-leader, Lorna Slater, they will continue to be a “constructive and loud opposition” on matters that are not addressed in any deal.
The Greens have sought guidance from their New Zealand sister party, which has a limited power-sharing deal with Jacinda Ardern’s Labour.
James Shaw, co-leader of the New Zealand Greens, has recommended that in any collaboration, they select and deliver “three big ticket issues” to clearly “show the benefit of being in government.”
This is how he believes they can escape the fate of the Liberal Democrats, who suffered huge electoral losses following their tenure in government with the Conservatives.
Mr Shaw believes the Greens can do considerably more in government than in opposition, despite “frustrations and restrictions” and what he calls “the dead rats that you have to swallow.”
In summary, the Greens will have to accept actions in government that they do not agree with in order to keep power.
Some members of the party have previously urged that a co-operation deal with the SNP be avoided due to differences in attitude to transgender matters.
However, both parties are at a point where they are seeking for points on which they can agree rather than points on which they cannot.
They want to continue discussions throughout the summer to see what they can come up with by the time Holyrood reconvenes at the end of August.
If they strike an agreement, the Greens may be in power in time for the UN climate meeting in Glasgow.
It may also provide the SNP with the votes they require to pass legislation proposals through parliament, while reducing the power of other major opposition parties.
First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has been in talks with the Scottish Greens about a formal partnership. She informed MSPs that the SNP and the Greens were looking at other policy areas where they might collaborate. She stated that informal negotiations had begun following the election and that they would now transition into organised talks in order to reach an agreement on a formal arrangement.
Although a comprehensive coalition agreement is unlikely, Ms Sturgeon stated that cabinet positions for Green MSPs were a possibility.
“The negotiations will focus on exactly what the content, breadth, and scope of any agreement will be,” she continued.
Scottish Conservative Leader Douglas Ross said parliament had to choose between focusing on voters’ issues and being “distracted by independence” in the coming term.
Scottish Labour Leader Anas Sarwar said the Scottish government needed to be more “bold and ambitious” in its recovery plans from the pandemic, and that his party would seek to be a “genuine alternative” for voters.
Scottish Conservative Leader Douglas Ross stated the parliament in the future term will have to choose between focusing on people’ concerns and being “distracted by independence.”