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Scotland's parliament elects John Swinney first minister

May 7, 2024

The Scottish parliament has approved John Swinney as the country's new first minister. His predecessor as leader of the ruling Scottish National Party stood down after a rift with his coalition partners.

John Swinney sat in the Scottish parliament
John Swinney has become the new leader of Scotland after taking charge of the Scottish National PartyImage: Andrew Milligan/dpa/PA Wire/picture alliance

Lawmakers in Edinburgh approved John Swinney as Scotland's new first minister on Tuesday, a day after the Scottish National Party (SNP) named him as their leader.

Swinney succeeds Humza Yousaf, who formally resigned from the role earlier in the day after announcing last week that he would do so.

How did the vote go?

Swinney won the backing of 64 lawmakers in the vote that was never in any real doubt. His nearest rival was Scottish Conservative leader Douglas Ross, who picked up 31.

The Scottish National Party (SNP) elected Swinney as its new leader on Monday after he emerged as the sole contender to pick a new premier.

The 60-year-old is a veteran who led the SNP from 2000 to 2004 when it was in opposition in the devolved Scottish parliament at Holyrood.

When the SNP became the largest party in the parliament in 2007, Swinney was picked to be finance minister.

But the path ahead could prove rocky for the new first minister, with former SNP leader and ally Nicola Sturgeon embroiled in a party funding scandal.

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The domestic policy landscape is also challenging, with inner party splits and a resurgent Labour Party threatening to take UK parliamentary seats from the SNP at the next election.

Why is there a new leader?

Yousaf was the first Muslim at the helm of a democratic Western European nation when he was inaugurated as first minister in 2023. However, he resigned last week in the wake of his decision to end a coalition deal with the Green Party.

That move backfired when it became clear that the party would struggle to rule as a minority government, with Yousaf citing a lack of personal trust as the main obstacle.

rc/ab (AFP, dpa)