Following the surprise resignation of Prime Minister Nicola Sturgeon, his party, the SNP, on Thursday set the timetable for the appointment of his successor, who will have the difficult task of carrying on the torch of the independence cause.
• Also read: Scotland: Surprise resignation of separatist PM
An intra-party vote will take place between March 13 and 27, the SNP said on Thursday evening after a meeting of its leaders, to determine the terms of appointment of its future leader.
A tight schedule – the previous election campaign in 2004 had lasted two and a half months – showing the separatists’ desire to settle this question of Nicola Sturgeon’s successor as soon as possible, less than two years after the next general election in the United Kingdom.
Candidates have until February 24 to explain themselves.
No one has done so yet, but Health Minister Humza Yousaf may announce his candidacy soon, according to local media. Other potential candidates include young Treasury Secretary Kate Forbes and former MP Angus Robertson.
Nicola Sturgeon’s deputy, John Swinney, who was approached, announced he would not be running.
Whoever is the future prime minister will have the difficult task of replacing Nicola Sturgeon, who has upheld the Declaration of Independence but has so far not carried it through as London rejects the prospect of a new referendum.
Party officials therefore decided on Thursday evening to postpone an important congress on this topic, which was supposed to take place in March.
“It would be a mistake to tie a newly elected leader to a key decision on how we ensure democracy in Scotland in the face of continued intransigence,” Lorna Finn, the party’s national secretary, said on Thursday evening from London.
However, the announcement of Nicola Sturgeon’s departure on Wednesday at the age of 52 leaves a huge void. In eight years in power, the leader, who arrived after winning the ‘no’ vote in the 2014 self-determination referendum, had managed to revive her defeated camp and accumulate electoral gains.
“If (Nicola Sturgeon) can’t lead Scotland, who can? ‘ asked the political magazine The Spectator on Thursday.
“Without a doubt, Nicola Sturgeon is the best activist for the SNP and she was an excellent communicator,” James Mitchell of the University of Edinburgh told AFP.
But “support for independence has not increased as much as predicted. She wasn’t able to answer some very sensitive questions about independence, pensions, the European Union, the currency,” this expert annoys.
Following a Supreme Court decision in 2022 upholding London’s refusal to organize a new referendum – called for by the SNP, which believes Brexit has changed the situation – Nicola Sturgeon called for the next UK general election in 2024 “de facto referendum”. a contentious prospect in the SNP and among voters.
The SNP must ‘pause’ the fight for Scottish independence to ‘give our new leader the opportunity and space to define his vision’, party leader Stephen Flynn told the BBC.
With the UK general election approaching, some believe uncertainties over a new direction could set Labor’s deal in the polls, but in Scotland it is battling the powerful left-based SNP.
“The British political context is changing. The SNP thrives when the Tories do well and the prospect of a Labor government will hurt the SNP,” said James Mitchell.
“The window could close for the SNP,” he added, although in his opinion “the SNP will not go away, quite the opposite.”
Nicola Sturgeon announced her departure, stating that she no longer had the “energy” to play her role.
Long popular, it was recently weakened by a controversial law making sex reassignment easier. Subsequently, the incarceration of a transgender woman in a women’s facility who had been convicted of raping a woman before her transformation sparked outrage and put her on the defensive.
The First Minister has announced that she will remain in office pending the appointment of a successor and remain a Member of the Scottish Parliament until the next election in 2026.