Nominations for the SNP leadership race have closed with three candidates to face a vote by the party’s membership.
Health secretary Humza Yousaf, finance secretary Kate Forbes and former community safety minister Ash Regan will have their names on the ballot paper to replace Nicola Sturgeon.
A spokesman for the SNP said: “With the 12pm deadline now past, we can confirm that all three declared candidates for the leadership of the SNP… have passed the threshold of nominations by at least 100 SNP members drawn from at least 20 SNP branches.”
A ballot of SNP members will begin at midday on March 13, with them asked to vote for either Forbes, Yousaf or Regan with the result to be announced on March 27.
So far, the campaign has focussed on the candidates’ views on social issues with Forbes losing key backers after saying she would not have voted in favour of equal marriage.
On Thursday she released a statement saying that she was “burdened” by the offence her comments caused and planned to involve members’ views more directly in the party’s police-making.
In the hours before the close of nominations, Regan officially launched her campaign. She promised that every election under her leadership, both at Holyrood and Westminster, would be considered a de facto referendum on independence.
Yousaf has proven to be the popular choice among fellow MSPs, with senior figures such as Shirley-Anne Somerville, Jenny Gilruth, Maree Todd and Neil Gray giving him their backing.
A poll of SNP supporters released on Friday revealed that Forbes was currently the most popular candidate despite a row over her religious beliefs.
Scots who voted for the SNP in the 2021 Holyrood election were asked who they thought should replace Sturgeon.
Almost a third (31%) of the 1,001 people questioned for communications agency The Big Partnership said they were undecided.
But 28% said they supported Forbes, putting her ahead of rivals Yousaf and Regan, who polled 20% and 7% respectively.
It is the first survey of SNP supporters to be carried out since the leadership contest began.
The three contenders will take part in a live televised debate on STV hosted by political editor Colin Mackay, at 9pm on Tuesday, March 7.
Scotland’s Next First Minister: The STV Debate will see Mackay question the candidates before they cross-examine each other.
Members of the public from across Scotland will also have their questions put to the contenders to replace Nicola Sturgeon.