MSPs set to back Humza Yousaf as Scotland's next first minister
Humza Yousaf will be chosen by MSPs to be the sixth first minister of Scotland after narrowly defeating his rivals in the race to lead the SNP.
The 37-year-old will become the youngest to win the job as one of the country’s most powerful politicians when SNP and Scottish Green parliamentarians in Holyrood back him to take over from Nicola Sturgeon on Tuesday.
After he wins the vote he will be sworn in as first minister of Scotland at the Court of Session in Edinburgh on Wednesday, and then on Thursday he will face rival party leaders in his opening First Minister’s Questions.
But as Mr Yousaf takes the job an Ipsos poll of 1,023 adults north of the border found half thought Scotland was heading in the wrong direction.
Just a quarter told the pollsters between March 17 and 21 that the country was heading in the right direction, and across all policy areas asked about – from the NHS to managing the economy – more felt the Scottish Government had done a bad job than good.
Rachel Ormston, research director at Ipsos in Scotland, said the findings underlined “Humza Yousaf’s very full in-tray”.
“He takes office at a point when the Scottish public is feeling pretty gloomy about the direction of their country, and negative about the Scottish Government performance across a range of key areas,” she said.
“Addressing these challenges and turning around public perceptions, particularly on the NHS and cost of living, will no doubt feature strongly on his first to-do list.”
At the Scottish Parliament on Tuesday it will not just be Mr Yousaf who puts his name in the ring to take over from Ms Sturgeon after her more than eight-year rule.
Douglas Ross of the Scottish Conservatives, Anas Sarwar of Scottish Labour and Alex Cole-Hamilton of the Scottish Liberal Democrats are expected to put their names forward.
They will be asked to speak by Alison Johnstone – the Presiding Officer of the Scottish Parliament, who is the equivalent of the Speaker in the House of Commons – with a separate vote for each, but as they lack the numbers they are set to fail.
Mr Yousaf is set to succeed because he has the backing of the Scottish Greens.
After the 2021 Holyrood election, they and the SNP drew up the Bute House Agreement – a powersharing deal which gave Mr Yousaf’s party the majority it needs to pass legislation and saw the Greens enter government.
The Scottish Greens have renewed their backing for the deal after Mr Yousaf was named party leader on Monday and, later in the evening, co-leaders Lorna Slater and Patrick Harvey met him at St Andrew’s House.
Mr Yousaf said they “reaffirmed our support” for the agreement which would “maintain our pro-independence majority” at the Parliament and “deliver for the people of Scotland”.
The SNP leader, who has been the Scottish Health Secretary since 2021, recorded a narrow victory over Kate Forbes once second preference votes were taken into account after Ash Regan was eliminated from the contest following the first round of voting.
He failed to win a majority in the first round but won 52.1% after second preference votes from Ms Regan were redistributed.
Ms Forbes came second with 47.9% of votes when second preferences were included.
Mr Yousaf described himself as the “luckiest man in the world” in a victory speech at Edinburgh’s BT Murrayfield stadium on Monday, and pledged to “dedicate every waking moment” to serving the people of Scotland.
After his win the Scottish Conservatives said they had “serious concerns about his ability” while Scottish Labour said an election was needed now.