Explanatory guide: appointment of a First Minister


The Parliament agreed on 13 November that the process of nominating a candidate for appointment as First Minister will take place on 19 November 2014. This note sets out information on the process that will take place in the Parliament prior to the formal appointment by Her Majesty the Queen.

Selection of the First Minister

The Scotland Act states that the nomination of a Member of the Scottish Parliament as First Minister must occur within 28 days of a First Minister tendering his or her resignation to the Queen.

Written nominations for the post of First Minister must be submitted to the Clerk no later than 30 minutes before the voting process begins. Forms for this purpose will be made available to Members from the Parliamentary Business Team on the morning of 19 November.

All nominations must be made by a Member and seconded by another Member. Candidates are able to withdraw their candidature between the rounds of voting on the day.

The voting period is due to take place at 14.40 on Wednesday. At that point, the Presiding Officer will announce the names of the candidates in alphabetical order and Members will be asked to vote for one candidate only. Each candidate may be allowed to speak briefly in support of their candidature.

The voting will take place in the Main Chamber of the Scottish Parliament and Members will vote using the electronic voting system.

Counting of votes

If a candidate wins more votes than the total number received by all other candidates and the total number of votes cast is more than a quarter of the total number of seats in the Parliament, that candidate will be selected.

Where there is only one candidate, Members will be asked to vote yes, no or abstain. If that candidate obtains a simple majority he or she will be declared as the Parliament’s nomination.

Where there are two or more candidates, Members will asked to vote yes for one candidate only. Where no candidate gains an absolute majority in the first vote, successive rounds of voting will be held, with Members voting for one candidate in each round and the candidate receiving the fewest votes in each round being eliminated. This procedure is repeated until only one candidate remains or until a candidate receives more votes than the total number of votes for all other candidates.

As required by the Scotland Act 1998 and following Parliament’s approval, the Presiding Officer Tricia Marwick MSP will recommend to Her Majesty The Queen that the First Minister be appointed.

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