The SNP will not lead Aberdeenshire Council despite having more councillors than any other party.
Aberdeenshire Council will instead be led by a Conservative, Liberal Democrat and independent coalition with final arrangements of the proposed union poised to be hammered out in the coming days.
The union would give the coalition 37 seats – in contrast the SNP has 28 councillors.
In a statement, Conservative group leader Jim Gifford said they had reached an agreement in principle.
SNP leader Alex Salmond told STV that his party had “a moral authority to run the administration” after securing a seat in every ward.
He said his party was in a “hugely strong position within touching distance of a majority”.
“It’s inconceivable that the administration won’t be lead by the SNP because we are so close that overall majority and in terms of votes we are kicking on 50% which is amazing,” he said speaking to STV at the election count last week.”
He said other examples of minority groups form coalitions – including a previous attempt in Angus - had not “worked out too well” and that it should be a “warning” to other parties.
A majority on Aberdeenshire Council is 35 – the SNP had 36 candidates running in the elections.
The proposed administration would include 14 Conservatives, 12 Liberal Democrats and eight independents.