John Swinney expected to lead Scotland after being confirmed as Scottish National Party leader

LONDON (AP) — Scotland’s former deputy first minister, John Swinney, was confirmed Monday as head of the Scottish National Party and is expected to become the country’s next leader, its third in just over a year.

Swinney, who led the SNP two decades ago, was the only candidate to replace First Minister Humza Yousaf as the leader of the party that has been in turmoil since long-serving First Minister Nicola Sturgeon abruptly stepped down last year during a campaign finance investigation that eventually led to criminal charges against her husband.

“I am deeply honored to have been elected as leader of @theSNP,” Swinney said on social media platform X. “I will give all that I have to serve my party and my country.”

Yousaf announced his resignation last week after a political miscalculation in which he booted the Green Party from his coalition government. The SNP is one seat short of a majority in the local parliament with 63 of the 128 voting seats, so it needs to partner with at least one opposition party.

Swinney, 60, who joined the party at age 15, will try to bring stability to the SNP as it fights efforts by its foes to weaken it going into U.K.-wide parliamentary elections expected later this year.

The Labour Party launched a no-confidence motion against Yousaf that failed last week after he said he would step down.

The pro-independence SNP was weakened by the campaign finance scandal and divisions over transgender rights, but was ultimately brought down by Yousaf’s decision to oust the Greens because of differences over climate change goals. Yousaf was unable to persuade other parties to back his minority government in Scotland’s parliament.

Facing the prospect of two no-confidence votes that had been scheduled, Yousaf quit rather than be forced out.

He will remain first minister until his replacement is elected. Swinney is likely to be elevated to that position later this week after potential challengers to his bid to lead the SNP said they would not run against him.

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