Scottish MPs pick nationalist Sturgeon as First Minister

Nicola Sturgeon (above) was named as Scotland's First Minister on Wednesday with a vote in the region's parliament, becoming the first woman to take on the role. -- PHOTO: AFP
Nicola Sturgeon (above) was named as Scotland's First Minister on Wednesday with a vote in the region's parliament, becoming the first woman to take on the role. -- PHOTO: AFP

LONDON (AFP) - Nicola Sturgeon was named as Scotland's First Minister on Wednesday with a vote in the region's parliament, becoming the first woman to take on the role.

The 44-year-old former lawyer was appointed head of the Scottish National Party (SNP) last week, taking over from outgoing leader Alex Salmond.

Salmond's deputy for around 10 years, Sturgeon was the only candidate in the running to succeed him.

Despite the independence cause being defeated in a referendum in September, the SNP has been gaining in support and the British government has promised to grant Scotland sweeping new autonomous powers.

In Wednesday's parliament vote, Sturgeon received 66 votes in favour and 15 against with 39 abstentions.

"We live in a new era of Scottish democracy," she told regional lawmakers before the vote.

In the Sept 18 referendum, 55 per cent voted for Scotland to remain in the United Kingdom against 45 per cent in favour of separation.