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Who Is Humza Yousaf? The New Scottish National Party Leader Replacing Nicola Sturgeon

Humza Yousaf, Scotland's Health Secretary, has been elected as the Scottish National Party's first-ever minority ethnic leader.

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sagar kar
Humza Yousaf

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Humza Yousaf, Scotland's Health Secretary, has been elected as the Scottish National Party's first-ever minority ethnic leader after a contentious campaign that laid bare deep divisions within the party. The SNP, which has been a dominant force in Scottish politics during the tenure of Yousaf's predecessor, Nicola Sturgeon, is expected to confirm Yousaf as Scotland's next first minister following a nominal vote on Tuesday, as per a report from the Guardian.

According to the SNP's national secretary, Lorna Finn, the party's leadership election saw a turnout of 70%. Yousaf secured 24,336 first-preference votes, representing 48% of the total, while Kate Forbes received 20,559 (40%) and Ash Regan garnered 5,599 (11%). In the second stage, when second preferences were distributed, Yousaf obtained 26,032 votes (52%), and Forbes received 23,890 (48%).

Yousaf's election critical for the future of SNP

Yousaf, who previously oversaw justice and transport portfolios, boasted significantly more experience than his centre-right opponent, Kate Forbes. The leadership battle was triggered by the surprise resignation of former SNP leader Nicola Sturgeon in February, and was framed as a critical juncture in the party's future direction.

Yousaf, who garnered the support of the majority of SNP MSPs and MPs, has promised to maintain the centre-left, socially inclusive approach that defined the Sturgeon era. However, he also pledged to lead with his own distinct style and distanced himself from some of his predecessor's key policies, such as the plan to hold the next general election as a de facto referendum. Additionally, Yousaf committed to a more transparent mode of governance.

Child poverty, a major challenge for the SNP leader

In an interview published on Monday ahead of the official announcement, Yousaf pledged to convene an anti-poverty summit as his first order of business as Scotland's new first minister. The summit would bring together experts to explore the potential of wealth taxes as a means of providing support to those in need. This promise follows the release of figures last week indicating that child poverty rates in Scotland are at the same level as when the SNP first took office in 2007.

Yousaf's appointment was announced at Murrayfield Stadium in Edinburgh on Monday afternoon, following a contentious leadership race marked by significant policy differences between candidates, unprecedented personal attacks, and the resignation of the SNP's chief executive and Sturgeon's husband, Peter Murrell. Murrell stepped down in the wake of damaging revelations that the media had been fed false information regarding membership figures.

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