List of First Ministers of Scotland

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Bute House, the official residence of the First Minister

The First Minister of Scotland is the political leader of Scotland, and head of the Scottish Government. The First Minister chairs the Scottish Cabinet and is primarily responsible for the formulation, development and presentation of Scottish government policy. The First Minister is a Member of the Scottish Parliament (MSP), and is nominated by the Scottish Parliament before being officially appointed by the monarch. Following a referendum in 1997, a Scottish Parliament and devolved Scottish Government were established, to give Scotland some measure of self governance in its domestic affairs. This devolution resulted in administrative and legislative changes to the way Scotland was governed, and resulted in the establishment of a post of First Minister to be head of the devolved Scottish Government. Following the first Scottish Parliamentary elections on 6 May 1999, Scottish Labour Party leader Donald Dewar was nominated as First Minister, and was officially appointed by the Queen on 17 May at a ceremony in the Palace of Holyroodhouse.[1]

Currently, the First Minister of Scotland is Nicola Sturgeon of the Scottish National Party (SNP), who succeeded Alex Salmond in November 2014 following his announcement that he would resign the premiership in the wake of the defeat of the Yes Scotland campaign in the Scottish independence referendum, 2014. Sturgeon leads the fourth government of the Scottish Parliament which was elected by the people of Scotland firstly in 2007 as a minority government,[2][3] and re-elected in 2011, where they formed the first majority government in the Scottish Parliament.[4][5]

The longest-serving First Minister is Alex Salmond, who surpassed Jack McConnell on 7 November 2012 and spent a total of 7 years in the role.[6]

Chronological list of First Ministers

No. Portrait Name
Term of office Political party
of FM
Elected Government Deputy First Minister
1 Donald Dewar.jpg Donald Dewar
MSP for Glasgow Anniesland
17 May
11 October
1 year, 147 days Labour 1999 Dewar
Jim Wallace
(Liberal Democrat)
Jim Wallace.jpg Jim Wallace (acting) 11—26 October 2000 Liberal Democrats
2 75px Henry McLeish
MSP for Central Fife
26 October
8 November
1 year, 13 days Labour McLeish
Jim Wallace.jpg Jim Wallace (acting) 8—22 November 2001 Liberal Democrats
3 75px Jack McConnell
MSP for Motherwell and Wishaw
22 November
16 May
5 years, 171 days Labour 1st McConnell
Jim Wallace
2001–2005 (LD)
Nicol Stephen
2005–2007 (LD)
2003 2nd McConnell
4 AlexSalmondMSPS20111219.jpg Alex Salmond
MSP for Gordon until 2011
MSP for Aberdeenshire East from 2011
16 May
19 November
7 years, 187 days Scottish National Party 2007 1st Salmond
SNP (minority)
Nicola Sturgeon
2011 2nd Salmond
5 Nicola Sturgeon.jpg Nicola Sturgeon
MSP for Glasgow Southside
20 November
Incumbent 4 years, 336 days 1st Sturgeon
John Swinney
2016 2nd Sturgeon
SNP (minority)

Died in office.



  1. "UK Politics- Dewar appointed as first minister", BBC News, 17 May 1999
  2. Wintour, Patrick (4 May 2007). "SNP wins historic victory". The Guardian. London.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  3. "Scottish elections 2007". The Guardian. London. 15 January 2008.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  4. Carrell, Severin (6 May 2011). "Stunning SNP election victory throws spotlight on Scottish independence". The Guardian. London.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  5. "Scottish election: SNP wins election". BBC News. 6 May 2011.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  6. "Longest-serving first minister Salmond will not 'go on and on'". BBC News. 7 November 2012. Retrieved 1 February 2013.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>

External links