Guide to selection of nominees for appointment as First Minister, Ministers and Junior Ministers


This note sets out information on the appointment process for the First Minister and Scottish Ministers.

Please note that it is expected that the election for the appointment of the First Minister will take place on Wednesday 18 May from 10am. However, this is subject to discussion at the Parliamentary Bureau which meets for the first time on Tuesday 17 May, and subsequently the agreement of Parliament.

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.

At a further meeting of Parliament, the First Minister will put forward a motion asking Parliament to agree to the appointment of Ministers and Junior Ministers.

Selection of the First Minister

The Scotland Act states that the election for the nomination of the First Minister must occur within 28 days of the Scottish election being held (ie. on or before 1 June). The actual date will be determined by the Parliament on a motion of the Parliamentary Bureau.

Candidates are able to withdraw their candidature during any stage of the voting process on the day. The voting process will take place in the main chamber of the Scottish Parliament and Members will vote using the electronic voting system.

Written nominations for the First Minister have to be submitted to the Clerk no later than 30 minutes before the selection and voting process begins. Nomination forms will be made available to Members from the Parliamentary Business Team on the day.

Nominations must be seconded by another Member who has already been sworn in.

Members will be informed of the candidates and asked to vote for one candidate only. Each candidate may be allowed to speak briefly in support of their nomination.

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 elected.

Where there is only one candidate, Members will be asked to vote 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 and none gains an absolute majority in the first vote, successive rounds of voting will be held, with Members voting for one candidate in each round with 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.

Appointment of Scottish Ministers

It is expected that a further meeting at a later date will be held to agree the First Minister’s recommendation to Her Majesty the Queen for the appointment of Scottish Ministers and Junior Scottish Ministers.

Ministers in the Scottish Executive are appointed by the First Minister with the approval of The Queen.

Before seeking that approval, the First Minister requires the agreement of the Parliament. The First Minister will put a motion to the Parliament seeking its agreement to his or her proposal for the appointment of an individual Member to be a Minister or a group of Members to become Ministers.

The motion must be approved by a simple majority of Members, with the total number of votes cast greater than a quarter of the total number of seats in the Parliament.

Amendments to the motion are permissible under Standing Orders. Each amendment selected by the Presiding Officer will be voted on in turn.

Appointment of Junior Scottish Ministers

The same procedures, with any appropriate modifications, apply as those for the selection of other Scottish Ministers

Members of the media should contact:
Ann Donald: 0131 348 5605 RNID TypeTalk calls welcome

Committees of the Scottish Parliament

For public information enquiries, contact:
Telephone: 0131 348 5000 / 0800 092 7500 (Public Enquiries) / 0131 348 5395 (Gàidhlig)
Textphone users can contact us on 0800 092 7100. We also welcome calls using the RNID Typetalk service.

You can now get in touch with the Parliament by text message. Our interactive service enables you to get the name of your MSP by sending your postcode, lets you ask questions about the Parliament and its work, and enables you to request a selection of free leaflets. The number to take advantage of is 07786 209888. Texts are charged at standard network rates. More details can be found on our Text Service page

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