Scotland First Minister vote: will Nicola Sturgeon be re-elected, who are other candidates - and is it on TV?

Scottish Liberal Democrat leader Willie Rennie is standing against Nicola Sturgeon in the special parliamentary vote

Tuesday, 18th May 2021, 11:30 am

A special parliamentary vote is set to take place today (18 May) to re-elect Scotland’s First Minister.

SNP leader Nicola Sturgeon, who has held the position since 2014, is poised to be officially re-elected to the post.

Her party was victorious in the recent Scottish Parliament election, with the SNP winning 64 out of the 129 seats - one short of an overall majority.

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Nicola Sturgeon is expected to be officially re-elected to the position of First Minister (Getty Images)

But before Ms Sturgeon’s name is put forward to the Queen to be confirmed in office, there needs to be a vote of MSPs.

Here is everything you need to know.

Why is there a vote for First Minister?

Even though Ms Sturgeon is the leader of Holyrood’s largest party, she doesn’t automatically retain the position of First Minister.

The election for the top job takes place under the Scotland Act, and the First Minister must be elected within 28 days of the election.

If that failed to happen, a new election would have to take place.

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When is the vote?

MSPs need to put forward their nominations for First Minister before 1:30pm on Tuesday.

All nominations need to be proposed by at least one MSP and then seconded by at least one other for them to become official.

Each nominee is then given five minutes to speak in the Holyrood chamber about why other MSPs should vote for them.

The vote will then be held at 2pm. You are able to watch the selection of the First Minister on Scottish Parliament TV from then.

After Ms Sturgeon wins the contest, as expected, she will be officially sworn in at the Court of Session on Wednesday (19 May).

She can then start to appoint ministers to her cabinet.

Ms Sturgeon is set to become Scotland’s longest-serving First Minister next year.

Will anyone oppose Nicola Sturgeon?

Liberal Democrat leader Willie Rennie, who represents the North East Fife constituency, is also standing in the parliamentary contest.

He was the only MSP to stand against Ms Sturgeon in 2016, but was defeated after winning five votes to her 63.

Announcing that he would be standing for First Minster, Mr Rennie said it was “important” that someone challenges Ms Sturgeon and her party.

He said: “This should not just be a SNP cakewalk.

“Nicola Sturgeon and Douglas Ross are both obstacles on the path to tackling the issues that really matter.

“They both want to spend the next five years arguing over independence.

“As First Minister I would focus on education, mental health, jobs and the climate emergency.

“That’s a positive plan for Scotland. That’s how we put recovery first.”

Conservative leader Douglas Ross is also expected to put his name forward for First Minister.

However, neither have any realistic chance of beating Ms Sturgeon in the vote since the SNP took more than twice as many seats as its nearest rival, the Tories, in the election on 6 May. Often, the decision to oppose is merely symbolic.

For a candidate to be elected, they need to win more votes than the total number received by all other candidates. The total number of votes cast also needs to be more than a quarter of the total number of seats in Parliament.

If there are more than two candidates in the running, the person with the fewest votes will be eliminated during each round of voting.