The Scottish Greens are better prepared for the Holyrood election than they have been for any previous ballot, co-leader Patrick Harvie said, as he insisted there was no reason why they should not return a record number of MSPs in May.
Mr Harvie also said this could be the election where his party makes the “breakthrough” of winning a constituency seat in the Scottish Parliament.
In the 2016 election, the Greens returned six MSPs, with candidates from five of their regional lists being voted in.
This time round, Mr Harvie said they could win an MSP in each of the eight regions – and that in areas such as the Lothians and Glasgow, they could win two.
His comments came as he refused to rule out the possibility of a coalition with the SNP after May 6 – if Nicola Sturgeon’s party fails to win an overall majority.
But Mr Harvie stressed the two pro-independence parties are “some way apart” on issues such as the use of fossil fuels and transport emissions.
Opinion polls this year have already suggested the Greens could win 10 or more seats this time at Holyrood.
Mr Harvie said: “This is the first time we have come into an election campaign with this really sustained period of a high polling average, as well as a really good level of organisation on the ground.
“So we feel that we are better prepared for this election than we have ever been in the past, as well as having that strong track record.”
He added: “There is no reason to think that there is any region in Scotland where we can’t return Green MSPs. In the regions where we don’t currently have someone, we were only a whisker away last time, and with the progress we have been making I am convinced we can have Green MSPs elected for every region.
“Clearly in Lothian, we have already shown we can have more than one elected, we can certainly do that in Glasgow. Some polls have suggested we can do it elsewhere.
“And this could be the first time that we make the breakthrough and win a constituency seat for the first time in Glasgow Kelvin.”
That is the seat where Mr Harvie is standing, as he said his party would look to “trust the voters to make the best judgment they can”.
He refused to say if there could be a coalition between the Greens and the SNP after May 6.
And he noted: “Obviously Greens have been in government in a number of other countries, that’s not actually very unusual across the European political landscape.”
But he added: “Whatever the parliamentary arithmetic, we know that the SNP are quite some distance from us on issues like a time frame for transitioning away from fossil fuels, they still won’t rule out supporting more licences for exploration for even more oil and gas, and on things like transport policy where the emissions are going up, not down.
“So they are quite some way away from us on those issues.”
He insisted Greens were “always willing to talk, and to talk constructively to other political parties about how we can make the best impact”.
And while talks took place in 2007 about the possibility of a coalition with the SNP, Mr Harvie said any similar discussions would have to take place after the election – not before.
“Right now our focus is on getting out there with a positive and inspiring green message about the policies we have to offer and the impact we have already had,” he said.