What happens next for John Swinney now he is SNP leader?

After securing the post of SNP leader, the former deputy first minister has to win a vote in Holyrood before he can succeed Humza Yousaf.

What happens next for John Swinney now he is SNP leader? PA Media

Becoming the new leader of the SNP does not mean John Swinney will automatically become Scotland’s next first minister.

For that to happen the former deputy first minister has to face a vote in the Scottish Parliament, where he will need to win the support of MSPs.

It is likely other party leaders could put themselves forward for the ballot, though it is in reality unlikely that they would be successful in this.

However for Swinney to win the vote in Holyrood, which could take place as early as Wednesday, he will need some MSPs from opposition parties to either back him in the vote, or at least abstain.

MSPs could vote on Wednesday to decide who should become the next first minister.PA Media

That is because without the powersharing deal with the Scottish Greens, which was ripped up by Humza Yousaf, the SNP is short of an overall majority in the Scottish Parliament.

The support of Scottish Greens therefore could still be crucial going forward, in this vote and in others to come at Holyrood.

Assuming he wins the vote, Swinney will then become the Scottish Parliament’s nominated candidate to be the country’s seventh first minister.

After that he would be formally appointed via a royal warrant, a legal document that is authorised by the King.

Following that he would officially be sworn into the post in a ceremony at the Court of Session in Edinburgh by the Lord President, Scotland’s most senior judge.

After being praised by Swinney when he announced he was running to be SNP leader, former finance secretary Kate Forbes could play a key role in his government team.PA Media

That could happen on Thursday morning with Swinney then potentially going on to take First Minister’s Questions for the first time in the new role at noon the same day.

He will also have to appoint his ministerial team of cabinet secretaries and junior ministers, with much attention on what position will go to Kate Forbes.

The former Holyrood finance secretary had been tipped as a possible challenger to Swinney for the SNP leadership, but announced on Thursday she would not stand and would instead back the former deputy first minister in his bid for the top job.

Swinney, in announcing his candidacy sought to praise Forbes, who last year ran Yousaf a close second in the contest to succeed Nicola Sturgeon, and giving her a top post in his cabinet team would be seen as a move towards restoring unity within the different factions of the SNP.

Forbes has been out of the Scottish cabinet since then, but could return to a senior post under Swinney.

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