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Sturgeon’s Resignation: Who is the next best candidate for First Minister of the SNP?

Who will succeed Nicola Sturgeon as the first minister of Scotland? Nicola Sturgeon announced that she is resigning from the role, stating in a conference at Bute House that continuing was neither right for her nor her party and country.

Scotland is looking for a new SNP leader. However, the likeliest candidate is unclear, as a BBC report estimates around 70% of (Scottish?) people interviewed are unsure of who they would choose as the next first minister.

GP Political Correspondent Tom Harwood comments on the vast ramifications of this announcement. 'This is entirely different. (From Nicola Sturgeon’s clear victory in 2014) There hasn’t been a contested Leadership election in the SNP since 2004, and this will be the first real big test of what sort of personalities there are and what sort of different visions there are for taking the SNP forward.'

Harwood says, 'A few names are going around in the mix, most of them in her own shadow cabinet.’ The names circulating include John Swinney, Angus Robinson, Humza Yousaf and Kate Forbes. None of the potential candidates are without controversy.

Swinney is the Deputy First Minister and Cabinet Secretary for Covid Secretary. He was head of the SNP back in 2000 but resigned in 2004. His previous political results were underwhelming, suggesting he may not make for a popular leader. However, his familiarity with Holyrood and involvement with the Scottish Parliament since 1999 make him an inevitable candidate, perhaps the most appropriate transition to First Minister.

Angus Robertson is Cabinet Secretary for the Constitution, External Affairs, and Culture. He has been in and out of front-line politics. However, his role as constitution secretary makes him a valuable intermediary between the UK and Scottish governments.

Humza Yousaf is currently Cabinet Secretary for Health and Social Care. He has held a wide variety of roles in politics, such as justice secretary and Europe minister. His ambition could be seen as a helpful asset when dealing with complex issues such as inflation and the management of the NHS.

Kate Forbes is Cabinet Secretary for Finance and the Economy. She is conservative and has even made anti-abortion comments in the past that could be seen as conflicting with Scotland’s current liberal leanings. While also on maternity leave, her astounding rise in politics at 32 makes her a stand-out and role model to look up to.

While these and more candidates are being circulated through the media, the expediency for making a choice is imperative due to the upcoming independence Summit next month on March 19th. Discussion is being held for delaying the conference in light of the uncertainty. Will Scottish Independence still have a leg to stand on by the end of 2023? And will the next leader be able to unify the Scottish people more so than Sturgeon did? Her resignation creates doubts about the future in the minds of many, while it serves as a celebratory motion for Unionists.

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