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The Deputy First Minister of Scotland (Scots: Heid Meinister Depute) is the deputy to the First Minister of Scotland.

The post is not recognised in statute (in comparison with the post of First Minister which is established by the Scotland Act 1998), and its holder is simply an ordinary member of the Scottish Government. The post has none-the-less existed since the establishment of the Scottish Parliament and Scottish Executive (now Scottish Government) in 1999.

The Additional Member System used to elect Members of the Scottish Parliament makes it difficult for a single party to have an absolute majority. Between 1999 and 2007, the Scottish Executive was formed by a Labour and Liberal Democrat coalition. The First Minister was appointed from the majority coalition partner (Labour) and the Deputy First Minister from the minority partner (Liberal Democrats). Although the Scottish National Party (SNP) formed a single party minority administration following the 2007 election, the post was not abolished despite there being no need to recognise the status of a second party leader, instead being given to the SNP Depute Leader Nicola Sturgeon MSP.[1]

During the illness of the first First Minister, Donald Dewar, the Deputy First Minister took over the running of the Executive as Acting First Minister.

The spelling used in the titles of all Deputy First Ministers so far has not been in line with traditional Scottish usage, which uses the form "Depute" in preference to "Deputy".

List of Deputy First Ministers

Name Entered Office Left Office Party Other offices held whilst in post
1. Jim Wallace 7 May 1999 23 June 2005 Liberal Democrats Minister for Justice (1999–2003)
Minister for Enterprise and Lifelong Learning (2003–2005)
2. Nicol Stephen 23 June 2005 16 May 2007 Liberal Democrats Minister for Enterprise and Lifelong Learning
3. Nicola Sturgeon 16 May 2007 Incumbent Scottish National Party Cabinet Secretary for Health and Wellbeing


  1. ^ "Salmond announces his new cabinet". BBC News. 2007-05-16. Retrieved 2007-05-16.  


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