After serving as the head of the Scottish government for more than eight years, Nicola Sturgeon has declared her intention to step down.

In a Wednesday press conference at her Edinburgh home, Sturgeon said she had debated the choice for weeks before deciding that someone else would be more suited to the position’s constant demands.

Even if it might seem premature to some people in my party and across the nation, Sturgeon added, “In my head and in my heart, I know that the moment is now and that it is appropriate for me, for my party, and for the nation.”

Being a politician nowadays is considerably more intense and, dare I say it, ruthless because of the way it is structured.

than in previous years,” she continued. Several political watchers were surprised by the choice. The Scottish independence movement, a cause long favoured by Sturgeon’s party, is expected to become more complicated as a result of her departure.

What you should know is as follows.

Why did Sturgeon play such a big role in the fight for independence?

The 2014 Scottish referendum’s failure prompted Alex Salmond, Sturgeon’s predecessor, to step down. Sturgeon, who is now 52, was the first female leader of the Scottish National Party (SNP) and first minister of the nation.


Following the United Kingdom’s decision to exit the European Union, Sturgeon announced intentions for a second referendum to be held in 2016.

Sturgeon made a key step towards independence in June 2022 when she requested a Section 30 order from Boris Johnson, the U.K. prime leader at the time.

It would give Edinburgh the authority to hold a vote of that nature. Johnson objected, and Sturgeon said that the SNP will still have a vote.

However, the UK Supreme Court reaffirmed in November that the Scottish government requires permission from the UK government in order to hold an independence referendum.

The idea of Scottish independence was already in jeopardy due to that verdict and the conservative party’s control of the British parliament.

With Sturgeon’s retirement, the campaign will also soon lose its most well-known supporter.

On the other side, a leadership transition might pave the way for a fresh approach.

The SNP must “relaunch its independence case and start making some bold judgements about what independence truly means” if it hopes to gain traction, according to one analyst.

Michael Keating, a political science lecturer at the University of Aberdeen “The fundamental question is: Will Scotland adopt the Nordic model of high taxes, huge spending, support for welfare, and support for the public sector? Or will it adopt a neoliberal model like the rest of the United Kingdom?”

The issue, according to Keating, is that when you start making claims, you start alienating individuals.


Are Sturgeon’s resignation and the gender ID bill related?

Sturgeon and the U.K. government have recently engaged in conflict over a new law that addresses gender identification.

The law seeks to make it simpler for Scottish citizens to officially indicate their preferred gender on birth certificates, marriage certificates, or even death certificates, without being examined by a doctor.

The law, which transgender rights advocates hailed as a groundbreaking piece of legislation, received harsh condemnation from many people, including those in Sturgeon’s own party.

Culture conflicts hadn’t existed in Scotland, but they suddenly reappeared with a force, according to Keating.

Rishi Sunak, the prime minister of the United Kingdom, claimed that the rule would be in conflict with national legislation because citizens of other regions of the Kingdom do require a medical exam to alter their gender. On one side of the Scottish-English border, a person may essentially be one gender legally while being another gender legally a mile away.

Sunak used that justification to stop the bill from becoming law after it narrowly passed in Scotland’s parliament.


At the time, Sturgeon stated that Sunak’s choice harmed Scotland’s democracy, but she herself endured the political fallout, obtaining her “first net unfavourable opinion rating in eight years,” according to Keating.

Sturgeon reiterated that she wasn’t retiring “for short-term difficulties” in response to a query about whether the controversy was “the straw that broke the camel’s back” on Wednesday.

Was Sturgeon’s departure then really so shocking?

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Although there have been many contentious debates, Sturgeon recently told the BBC that she still had “enough left in the tank” and that she hoped to be the person who would take Scotland into independence.


The sudden invitation to Sturgeon’s home during the break in the Scottish parliament astonished local journalists. When Sturgeon made a presentation, they were even more shocked.

a polished, practised resignation speech. “This choice is not a response to immediate pressures. Of course, the government is currently dealing with some challenging situations. Nevertheless, when is that not the case?” stated Sturgeon.

I’m not expecting violins here, she added, acknowledging that there would be retaliation.

Political analysts like Keating note that despite her relative popularity, the surprise is consistent with well-known political tactics.


“She had spent eight years there. That roughly sums up a politician’s useful life “added the professor. In a way, it came as a surprise because [she claimed she was going to continue], but any leader would say that because the moment you announce your intention to leave, you automatically become a lame duck.

Why are people discussing Jacinda, I hear you ask?

Again, Ardern?

Sturgeon’s abrupt resignation has been compared to that of Jacinda Ardern, the prime minister of New Zealand, who similarly announced her surprise retirement last month after serving for five years.

Instead than waiting to be forced out, both lawmakers opted to retire on their own terms. Both made mention of the divisive nature of political debate and the psychological burden that comes with holding public office.

What follows is what?

Up until the Scottish National Party can choose a new leader, Sturgeon will continue to serve as first minister. Until the May 2026 election for her seat, she will continue to serve in parliament.

Sturgeon stated on Wednesday that the upcoming British election would act as “a de facto vote” on the viability of Scottish independence.


When that happens, a new British prime minister (presumably not from the conservative coalition currently in power) may decide to give Scotland the Section 30 order it needs to organise a second vote.

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