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Scottish First Minister Sturgeon steps down in a shock resignation


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Long-time Scottish first minister Nicola Sturgeon resigned from her post on Wednesday, signaling a decline in her dominance over the party and the country.

In power since 2014, she said, she had become so divisive — and too tired — to transcend the political divide, and wanted to move away from the “brutalities” of modern politics to focus on “Nicola Sturgeon the person.”

Her unexpected departure will have ramifications for her Scottish National Party (SNP), for the independence struggle and possibly the outcome of the next national election if she helps the opposition Labor Party regain some of the seats it held in Scotland.

“This is really hard for me,” said Sturgeon, 52. “My decision comes from a place of duty and love, tough love perhaps, but love nonetheless, for my party, and above all for the country.”

She became leader of the Scottish National Party following the 2014 independence referendum when Scotland voted 55% to 45% to remain part of the United Kingdom.

She led her party through a string of resounding electoral victories and earned a reputation as Britain’s best political communicator. These skills were evident during the COVID-19 pandemic when I avoided many of the mistakes made by politicians in Westminster.

But in recent months, Britain’s Supreme Court has blocked the path it was seeking to hold a new independence referendum, and has become embroiled in a row over transgender rights that has angered some of its supporters.

On Wednesday, she said she would step down as first minister and leader of the Scottish National Party once a successor is found.

Sturgeon told a news conference in Edinburgh that she believed there was a majority in favor of independence in Scotland, but that the SNP needed to strengthen and grow that support.

“To achieve this, we must transcend the divide in Scottish politics,” she said. “My verdict now is that the new leader will be better able to do it. Someone whose mind nearly everyone in the country has not been compensated for better or worse.”

Echoing Jacinda Ardern’s comment that she “didn’t have much more in the tank” when she resigned as New Zealand captain in January, Sturgeon said the brutality of modern politics had taken its toll on her and she could no longer commit to giving “every ounce of energy”. The job requires.

Sturgeon, who had killed four British prime ministers during her time in office, resigned without a clear successor, and did not resolve the issue of independence.

Her predecessor, Alex Salmond, said there was no clear strategy for securing another independence referendum.

Resounding success

Sturgeon led her party to a landslide success in the 2015 UK election, winning 56 of the 59 seats in Scotland before retaining control of the devolved parliament at the last election.

But the SNP suffered a blow in November when the UK’s Supreme Court ruled that its government could not hold a second referendum without the consent of the British Parliament.

Successive Conservative governments in London have said the 2014 referendum was a once-in-a-generation decision that should not be repeated soon.

Anthony Wells, head of European political and social research at YouGov UK, told Reuters that Sturgeon’s power at the helm of the SNP contained internal disagreements over the party’s direction. It also helped mitigate criticism of its domestic record in areas such as health and education.

“Without someone clearly putting their hand on the lever, I think it would be a little messy,” he said.

According to opinion polls, support for independence rose to more than 50% in the wake of the Supreme Court defeat, but has since declined.

Possible candidates to replace Sturgeon include Kate Forbes, the government’s 32-year-old finance minister, John Sweeney, the 58-year-old deputy first minister, and Angus Robertson, the party’s former deputy leader.

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