The SNP candidates have been discussing the role second preference votes will play ahead of Monday’s voting deadline.
Finance secretary Kate Forbes, health secretary Humza Yousaf and former community safety minister Ash Regan are in the running to become Scotland’s sixth First Minister.
Ballot papers have been sent out to tens of thousands of SNP members, who are tasked with choosing their party’s new leader.
The single transferable voting system being used means second preferences could be key in determining the next SNP leader.
Discussing the role that second preference votes will play, Kate Forbes said “she doesn’t know” if it will affect her chances of winning.
She said: “I think there’s no polling that has suggested in any way what the outcome will be. And, you know, I think ultimately there’s a decision to be made for SNP members.
“But let’s see, you know, who they choose. They have a selection of three very different candidates and it’s in their hands.”
Humza Yousaf admitted “transfers could end up playing a part” but reaffirmed his main strategy was to get first preferences.
He said: “Well, my strategy has been to try to get as many first preferences as possible, obviously have a significant lead.
“And interestingly, polls that have come out as recently as this week, as recently as yesterday, in fact, show that I’m favoured among SNP supporters.
“So that certainly gives me a level of confidence. Yes, transfers could end up playing a part in it, but this is all speculation and, you know, I’ll know as much as you do in that regard.
“And certainly we’ll find the result out on Monday.”
Ash Regan admitted that redistributed votes can have “interesting effects”.
She said: “So, it will because it’s an STV vote. So obviously with three candidates, the lowest one will be eliminated first and then their second votes will be redistributed and sometimes that can have really interesting effects.
“So everything to play for and we’ll find out on Monday. I haven’t advised anyone to vote for any other candidates. That would be up to the members to decide.
“There’s only three candidates. I think they know us all pretty well by now, it would be up to the members to decide how they use those additional votes.”
The result will be announced after the ballot closes at noon on Monday, March 27.
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