Just hours after Nicola Sturgeon announced her surprise resignation on Wednesday, discussion had already begun about who might succeed her as the leader of the Scottish National Party and who would head the Scottish government.
The party is expected to hold a leadership election in the coming weeks, and Ms. Sturgeon said she would continue to lead the party until that time. While it is still unclear who may stand for the leadership role, and no one has yet to officially throw his or her hat into the ring, a handful of party members have already been suggested.
Kate Forbes, 32, has often been tipped as a potential successor to Ms. Sturgeon. A former finance secretary, Ms. Forbes is currently on maternity leave after giving birth to her daughter, Naomi, in August.
Ms. Forbes is the daughter of missionaries and is originally from the town of Dingwall in the Scottish Highlands, but spent much of her time growing up in Glasgow and India. She is a fluent Gaelic speaker and is a member of the Free Church of Scotland, an evangelical Presbyterian church that follows a strict interpretation of the Bible.
She was first elected to the Scottish Parliament in 2016, representing the constituency of Skye, Lochaber and Badenoch since that time. In 2020 she was appointed as the finance minister after her predecessor, Derek Mackay, resigned from the post when it was revealed that he had been sending inappropriate text messages to a teenager.
Angus Robertson, the former leader of the Scottish National Party’s group in Westminster, is also seen as a potential candidate to succeed Ms. Sturgeon. After serving in the House of Commons from 2001 to 2017, he became a Member of the Scottish Parliament representing the Edinburgh Central constituency in 2021.
Mr. Roberston, 53, is considered one of the most senior members of his party, which he joined in 1984 as a teenager. He now serves as a cabinet secretary for the Constitution, external affairs and culture. He was a journalist before he entered politics and is married with two daughters.
John Swinney, Ms. Sturgeon’s deputy, has also been seen as a potential successor. He was appointed as the deputy first minister and cabinet secretary for Covid Recovery in May 2021.
Mr. Swinney, 58, was born in Edinburgh and has a master’s degree in politics from Edinburgh University. He is married to Elizabeth Quigley, a television reporter, and has three children.
He previously served as the head of the Scottish National Party from 2000 to 2004, but was not first minister because the party did not have the majority of seats in the Scottish Parliament at the time. Shortly after Ms. Sturgeon’s resignation, Mr. Swinney said he was “very sorry Nicola Sturgeon has decided to step down as first minister and as SNP leader.”
“She has given outstanding leadership to our country, government and party,” he wrote in a statement on Twitter.
Humza Yousaf, 37, has served in the Scottish Parliament since 2011 and is currently the cabinet secretary for health and social care. When he was first elected, representing the Glasgow region, he was just 26, the youngest minister ever appointed to the Scottish government.
He broke another barrier the next year, when he was appointed Scotland’s minister for external affairs and international development, becoming the first person from an ethnic minority background to hold the position. Mr. Yousaf, a practicing Muslim, has long been involved in community work and served as a media spokesman for the international aid group Islamic Relief.
His family initiated a legal action against a nursery that he and his wife believed had discriminated against their daughter, allegedly because she had a Muslim-sounding name, but dropped the lawsuit earlier this month.