List of first ministers of Scotland

The First Minister of Scotland is the leader of the Scottish Government, Scotland's devolved government. The First Minister is responsible for the exercise of functions by the Cabinet of the Scottish Government; policy development and coordination; relationships with the rest of the United Kingdom, Europe and the wider world. The First Minister is a Member of the Scottish Parliament (MSP), and is nominated by the Scottish Parliament before being officially appointed by the monarch.

  • Top left: Donald Dewar was the first ever first minister of Scotland.
  • Top right: Jack McConnell was the youngest first minister on the day he was sworn in.
  • Bottom left: Alex Salmond was the longest serving first minister.
  • Bottom right: Nicola Sturgeon is the current and first female first minister.

Currently, the First Minister is Nicola Sturgeon of the Scottish National Party (SNP), who succeeded Alex Salmond in November 2014 following his resignation after the 2014 Scottish independence referendum. Sturgeon has led the Government of the 6th Scottish Parliament since 2021. Sturgeon, and before that, Alex Salmond, previously led the governments of the 3rd and 4th Scottish Parliaments which was first elected in 2007 as a minority government, and re-elected in 2011, where they formed the first majority government in the Scottish Parliament.[1][2][3][4]

The longest-serving First Minister is Alex Salmond, who surpassed Jack McConnell on 7 November 2012 and spent a total of 7 and a half years in the role.[5] Donald Dewar was the first person to hold the position.

Chronological list of First Ministers of Scotland

No. Portrait Name
(birth and death)
Term of office Political party Term
Ministry Deputy First Minister
1 Donald Dewar
MSP for Glasgow Anniesland
17 May
11 October
1 year, 147 days Scottish Labour Party 1st
Jim Wallace (LD)
(19 May 1999 – 23 June 2005)
Jim Wallace (acting)
MSP for Orkney
11 October 2000 27 October 2000 16 days Scottish Liberal Democrats
2 Henry McLeish
MSP for Central Fife
27 October
8 November
1 year, 12 days Scottish Labour Party McLeish
Jim Wallace (acting)
MSP for Orkney
8 November
27 November
19 days Scottish Liberal Democrats
3 Jack McConnell
MSP for Motherwell and Wishaw
27 November
16 May
5 years, 170 days Scottish Labour Party 1st McConnell
2nd McConnell
Nicol Stephen (LD)
(27 June 2005 – 17 May 2007)
4 Alex Salmond
MSP for Gordon until 2011
MSP for Aberdeenshire East from 2011
17 May
18 November
7 years, 185 days Scottish National Party 3rd
1st Salmond
SNP (minority)
Nicola Sturgeon (SNP)
(17 May 2007 – 19 November 2014)
2nd Salmond
5 Nicola Sturgeon
MSP for Glasgow Southside
20 November
Incumbent 6 years, 205 days 1st Sturgeon
John Swinney (SNP)
(21 November 2014 – Present)
2nd Sturgeon
SNP (minority)
3rd Sturgeon
SNP (minority)

Died in office.


Nicola SturgeonAlex SalmondJack McConnellHenry McLeishJim WallaceDonald Dewar


  1. Wintour, Patrick (4 May 2007). "SNP wins historic victory". The Guardian. London.
  2. "Scottish elections 2007". The Guardian. London. 15 January 2008.
  3. Carrell, Severin (6 May 2011). "Stunning SNP election victory throws spotlight on Scottish independence". The Guardian. London.
  4. "Scottish election: SNP wins election". BBC News. 6 May 2011.
  5. "Longest-serving First Minister Salmond will not 'go on and on'". BBC News. 7 November 2012. Retrieved 1 February 2013.