London, Thanasis Gavos

The until now Minister of Health in the decentralized government her Scotland Hamza Yousaf elected new leader of the ruling Scottish National Party (SNP) through the internal party process for the nomination of the successor of the resigned Nicola Sturgeon.

Taking over the SNP leadership will also see Mr Youssef become the new Scottish devolved local government premier, although the premiership will have to be confirmed by a vote on Tuesday in the local parliament of Holyrood, where the SNP holds 64 out of 129 seats.

The winner received a total of 52.1% of the second-preference vote (26,032) against 47.9% (23,890) for Finance Minister Kate Forbes.

The third candidate, former Assistant Secretary of Community Safety Ash Reagan, was eliminated first after receiving the fewest first-preference votes.

Almost 73,000 registered SNP members were eligible to vote.

Voting by party members began on March 13, following the surprise resignation of Ms Sturgeon, who cited personal rather than political reasons for handing over power after eight-and-a-half years.

Mr. Yousaf in his first statements declared “the luckiest man in the world” after being chosen to lead the party he loved since he was a child. He added that if the position of prime minister is given to him by Holyrood, he will be “prime minister of all Scots”.

It set priorities for tackling punctuality, fixing the problems of the NHS health system, boosting the economy, boosting innovation and protecting the environment.

He also stated that he wants the return of Scotland to the EU, which will only be achieved by independence from the United Kingdom. “I promise our campaign for independence will kick into fifth gear,” said the new SNP leader, who is seen as a close ally of Nicola Sturgeon.

The 37-year-old politician, who holds the seat of Holyrood in the Glasgow area, is the first Asian (of Pakistani origin) and the first Muslim to serve in the Scottish government.