The British–Irish Council is an intergovernmental organisation that aims to improve collaboration between its members in a number of areas including transport, the environment, energy. Its membership comprises Ireland, the United Kingdom, the devolved governments of Northern Ireland and Wales, the governments of the Crown dependencies of the UK: Guernsey and the Isle of Man. England does not have a devolved administration, as a result is not individually represented on the Council but represented as a member of the UK; the British and Irish governments, political parties in Northern Ireland, agreed to form a Council under the British–Irish Agreement, part of the Good Friday Agreement reached in 1998. The Council was formally established on 2 December 1999; the Council's stated aim is to "promote the harmonious and mutually beneficial development of the totality of relationships among the peoples of these islands". The BIC has a standing secretariat, located in Edinburgh and meets in semi-annual summit session and more frequent ministerial meetings.
Membership of the Council consists of the following administrations: The nine heads of government meet at summits twice per year. Additionally, there are regular meetings that deal with specific sectors and are attended by the corresponding ministers. Representatives of members operate in accordance with whatever procedures for democratic authority and accountability are in force in their respective elected legislatures. England, unlike the other countries of the United Kingdom, is not represented separately, as it does not have its own devolved administration, it is thus represented on the Council as part of the United Kingdom. The work of the Council is financed by members through mutual agreement as required. At the ninth meeting of the Council in July 2007 it was decided that with devolved government returned to Northern Ireland that an opportune time existed "to undertake a strategic review of the Council's work programmes, working methods and support arrangements." This decision included the potential for a permanent standing secretariat, established in Edinburgh, Scotland, on 4 January 2012.
At its June 2010 summit, the Council decided to move forward on recommendations to enhance the relationship between it and the British-Irish Parliamentary Assembly. The British-Irish Parliamentary Assembly is made up of members from the parliaments and assemblies of the same states and regions as the members of the British–Irish Council; the Council tasked its secretariat with moving this work forward in conjunction with the BIPA's secretariat. In addition to the above members Cornwall has been a full observer member since 2010 due to the Cornish language falling under the Council's areas of work; the Council agrees to specific work areas. The Belfast Agreement suggested transport links, environmental issues, health and approaches to the European Union as suitable topics for early discussion. However, these work areas can be reduced as the Council decides, it is open to the Council to make agreement on common policies. These agreements are made through consensus, although individual members may opt not to participate in implementing any of these.
The current list of work areas and the member responsible are: Demography was adopted as a work area at the 2006 meeting of the Council. It was proposed by the Scottish Executive, who took responsibility for it. During the 2007 meeting of the Council the Scottish Government further proposed that energy become a work area of the Council. Past work sector areas included e-health / telemedicine and tourism. Initial suggestions for the council included the names Council of the British Isles or Council of the Isles, the council has sometimes been known by the latter name. However, owing to sensibilities around the term British Isles in Ireland, the name British-Irish Council was agreed; the official name of the Council is represented in minority and lesser-used languages of the council as: Council of Ireland North/South Ministerial Council British–Irish Intergovernmental Conference British–Irish Parliamentary Assembly Official website
The Scottish Government is the executive government of the devolved Scottish Parliament. The government was established in 1999 as the Scottish Executive under the Scotland Act 1998, which created a devolved administration for Scotland in line with the result of the 1997 referendum on Scottish devolution; the government consists of cabinet secretaries, who attend cabinet meetings, ministers, who do not. It is led by the first minister, who selects the cabinet secretaries and ministers with approval of parliament; the Scottish Government holds executive over devolved and not explicitly reserved matters of the Scottish Parliament, which are powers not reserved to the United Kingdom Parliament by Schedule 5 to the Scotland Act 1998, the subsequent revisions of the devolution settlement by the Scotland Act 2012 and 2016. Devolved matters that were decided upon by the Scotland Act 1998 included; the government is led by the First Minister. The Scottish Parliament nominates one of its members to be appointed as First Minister by the Head of State.
He or she is assisted by various Cabinet Secretaries with individual portfolios, who are appointed by the First Minister with the approval of Parliament. Junior Ministers are appointed to assist Cabinet Secretaries in their work; the Scottish Law officers, the Lord Advocate and Solicitor General, can be appointed without being a Member of the Scottish Parliament, they are subject to Parliament's approval and scrutiny. Law Officers are appointed by the head of state on the recommendation of the First Minister. Collectively, The First Minister, Cabinet Secretaries, Junior Ministers and the Law Officers are known as the "Scottish Ministers"; the Scottish Government uses a government structure that has a dual executive structure of a Cabinet that invokes collective decision-making, as well as non-cabinet members as Junior Ministers. The title Cabinet Secretary means a member of the Government who partakes in Cabinet, whereas Junior Ministers assist Cabinet Secretaries but are not part of the Scottish Cabinet.
The Cabinet Secretaries and Junior Ministers are: The Scottish Cabinet is the group of ministers who are collectively responsible for all Scottish Government policy. While parliament is in session, the cabinet meets weekly. Meetings are held on Tuesday afternoons in Bute House, the official residence of the First Minister; the cabinet consists of the cabinet secretaries, excluding the Scottish Law Officers. The Lord Advocate attends meetings of the cabinet only when requested by the first minister, he is not formally a member; the cabinet is supported by the Cabinet Secretariat, based at St Andrew's House. There are two sub-committees of Cabinet: Cabinet Sub-Committee on Legislation Membership: the Deputy First Minister and Cabinet Secretary for Health and Wellbeing, the Minister for Parliamentary Business, the Lord Advocate. Scottish Government Resilience Room Cabinet Sub-Committee Membership: Cabinet Secretary for Justice, the Cabinet Secretary for Finance and Sustainable Growth, the Cabinet Secretary for Health and Wellbeing,the Cabinet Secretary for Rural Affairs and the Environment and the Lord Advocate.
For several years prior to the Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games there had been a third sub-committee of Cabinet: Glasgow 2014 Legacy Plan Delivery Group Membership: Deputy First Minister and Cabinet Secretary for Health and Wellbeing, Minister for Community Safety, Minister for Culture, External Affairs and the Constitution, Minister for Enterprise and Tourism, Minister for Environment, Minister for Housing and Communities, Minister for Public Health and Sport, Minister for Schools and Skills, the Minister for Transport and Climate Change. Scottish Government includes a civil service that supports the Scottish ministers. According to 2012 reports, there are 16,000 civil servants working in core Scottish Government directorates and agencies; the civil service is a matter reserved to the British parliament at Westminster: Scottish Government civil servants work within the rules and customs of Her Majesty's Civil Service, but serve the devolved administration rather than British government. The permanent secretary is the most senior Scottish civil servant, leads the strategic board, supports the first minister and cabinet.
The current permanent secretary is Leslie Evans, who assumed the post in July 2015. The permanent secretary is a member of Her Majesty's Civil Service, therefore takes part in the permanent secretaries manageme
2016 Scottish Parliament election
The Scottish parliament election, 2016 was held on Thursday, 5 May 2016 to elect 129 members to the Scottish Parliament. It was the fifth election held since the devolved parliament was established in 1999, it was the first parliamentary election in Scotland in which 16 and 17 year olds were eligible to vote, under the provisions of the Scottish Elections Act. It was the first time the three largest parties were led by women. Parliament went into dissolution on 24 March 2016, allowing the official period of campaigning to get underway. Five parties had MSPs in the previous parliament: Scottish National Party led by First Minister Nicola Sturgeon, Scottish Labour Party led by Kezia Dugdale, Scottish Conservatives led by Ruth Davidson, Scottish Liberal Democrats led by Willie Rennie, Scottish Greens, led by their co-conveners Patrick Harvie and Maggie Chapman. Of those five parties, four changed their leader since the 2011 election. During the campaign, a series of televised debates took place, including party leaders of the elected parties.
BBC Scotland held the first leaders’ debate on 24 March, STV broadcast the next on 29 March, BBC Scotland hosted the final debate on 1 May. The Scottish National Party won the election and a third term in government, but fell two seats short of securing a second consecutive overall majority; the Conservatives saw a significant increase in support and replaced the Labour Party as the second-largest party and main opposition in the Scottish Parliament. This was the first time; the Scottish Greens won six seats on the regional list and overtook the Liberal Democrats, who remained on five seats. Although the SNP had lost their majority, it was still by far the largest single party in the Scottish Parliament, with more than double the seats of the Conservatives. Accordingly, Sturgeon announced, she was voted in for a second term as First Minister on 17 May. Under the Scotland Act 1998, an ordinary election to the Scottish Parliament would have been held on the first Thursday in May four years after the 2011 election, i.e. in May 2015.
In May 2010, the new UK Government stated in its coalition agreement that the next United Kingdom general election would be held in May 2015. This proposal was criticised by the Scottish National Party and Labour, as it had been recommended after the 2007 election that elections with different voting systems should be held on separate days: a recommendation which all of the political parties had accepted. In response to this criticism, Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg offered the right to vary the date of the Scottish Parliament election by a year either way. All the main political parties stated their support for delaying the election by a year; the Fixed-term Parliaments Act 2011, a statute of the UK Parliament, moved the date of the Scottish Parliament election to 5 May 2016. The date of the poll may be varied by up to one month either way by the monarch, on the proposal of the Presiding Officer. If Parliament itself resolves that it should be dissolved, with at least two-thirds of the Members voting in favour, the Presiding Officer proposes a date for an extraordinary election and the Parliament is dissolved by the monarch by royal proclamation.
It does not require a two-thirds majority to precipitate an extraordinary election, because under the Scotland Act Parliament is dissolved if it fails to nominate one of its members to be First Minister within certain time limits, irrespective of whether at the beginning or in the middle of a parliamentary term. Therefore, if the First Minister resigned, Parliament would have 28 days to elect a successor. If no new First Minister was elected the Presiding Officer would ask for Parliament to be dissolved under s3a; this process could be triggered if the First Minister lost a vote of confidence by a simple majority, as s/he must resign. To date the Parliament has never held a confidence vote on a First Minister. No extraordinary elections have been held to date. Any extraordinary elections would be in addition to ordinary elections, unless held less than six months before the due date of an ordinary election, in which case they supplant it; the subsequent ordinary election reverts to the first Thursday in May, a multiple of four years after 1999.
It was envisaged that the election would still have taken place as scheduled if Scotland had voted in favour of independence in 2014. Changes to the SNP's selection procedures the previous year in order to ensure gender balance of candidates meant that any incumbent constituency MSP who chose to retire would have their replacement selected from an all woman shortlist; the only ways for a new male candidate to receive a constituency nomination would be to stand in a constituency held by an opposition MSP or to run a de-selection campaign against a sitting MSP. For that reason there were far more challenges than normal within the SNP, but only two were successful: The total number of Members of the Scottish Parliament elected to the Parliament is 129; the First Periodical Review of the Scottish Parliament's constituencies and regions by the Boundary Commission for Scotland, was announced on 3 July 2007. The Commission published its provisional proposals for the regional boundaries in 2009; the Scottish Parliament uses an Additional Members System, designed to produce approximate proportional representation for each region.
There are each sub-divided into smaller constituencies. There are a total of 73 constituencies; each constituency elects one MSP by the plurality system of election. Each reg
2007 Scottish Parliament election
The 2007 Scottish Parliament election was held on Thursday 3 May 2007 to elect members to the Scottish Parliament. It was the third general election to the devolved Scottish Parliament since it was created in 1999. Local elections in Scotland fell on the same day; the Scottish National Party emerged as the largest party with 47 seats followed by the incumbent Scottish Labour Party with 46 seats. The Scottish Conservatives won 17 seats, the Scottish Liberal Democrats 16 seats, the Scottish Green Party 2 seats and one Independent was elected; the SNP approached the Lib Dems for a coalition government, but the Lib Dems turned them down. The Greens agreed to provide the numbers to vote in an SNP minority government, with SNP leader Alex Salmond as First Minister; the Scottish Socialist Party and the Scottish Senior Citizens Unity Party, which won seats in the 2003 election, lost all of their seats. Former MSP Tommy Sheridan's new party, Solidarity failed to win any seats. Campbell Martin and Dr Jean Turner both lost their seats, Dennis Canavan and Brian Monteith retired.
The main issues during the campaign trail were healthcare, council tax reform, the Union, the Iraq War and more powers for the Scottish Parliament. Some parties proposed raise the school leaving age from 16 to 18 and raising the minimum age to purchase tobacco products from 16 to 18. Jack McConnell, as First Minister, entered the election defending a small overall majority of five seats via a coalition of Labour and the Liberal Democrats; the Lab-LD social liberal coalition had been in power, with three different First Ministers, since the first Scottish Parliament election in 1999. Opinion polls suggested its majority could be lost in 2007, due to falling support for the Labour Party and rising support for other parties, in particular the Scottish National Party; the polls suggested that no single party was to acquire an overall majority, nor was there an obvious alternative coalition ready to form a new Executive. A TNS Poll in November 2006 gave Labour an 8% lead over the SNP, second behind Labour in terms of numbers of Members of the Scottish Parliament.
As the election approached the SNP gained support while Labour's support declined. Based on pre-election projections, there could have been some possibility of an SNP–Liberal Democrat coalition, which might have extended to include the Scottish Green Party; the other parties represented in the Parliament before the election were the Scottish Conservative Party, the Scottish Socialist Party and the Scottish Senior Citizens Unity Party. Other parties that campaigned for seats in Holyrood included the United Kingdom Independence Party, the British National Party, the Scottish Unionist Party, the Scottish Socialist Labour Party, the Christian Peoples Alliance, the Scottish Christian Party and the Scotland Against Crooked Lawyers Party. Susan Deacon, Edinburgh East and Musselburgh John Home Robertson, East Lothian Janis Hughes, Glasgow Rutherglen Kate Maclean, Dundee West Maureen Macmillan and Islands list Bruce McFee, West of Scotland list George Reid, Ochil Phil Gallie, South of Scotland list James Douglas-Hamilton, Lothians list Donald Gorrie, Central Scotland list Jim Wallace, Orkney Frances Curran, West of Scotland list Dennis Canavan, Falkirk West Brian Monteith, Mid Scotland and Fife list Gordon Jackson, Glasgow Govan Sylvia Jackson, Stirling Margaret Jamieson and Loudoun Maureen Macmillan and Islands Christine May, Fife Central Alasdair Morrison, Western Isles Bristow Muldoon, Livingston Allan Wilson, Cunninghame North Andrew Arbuckle, Mid Scotland and Fife Nora Radcliffe, Gordon Euan Robson and Berwickshire Dave Petrie and Islands Murray Tosh, West of Scotland Shiona Baird, North East Scotland Chris Ballance, South of Scotland Mark Ballard, Lothians Mark Ruskell, Mid Scotland and Fife Eleanor Scott and Islands Rosemary Byrne, South of Scotland Colin Fox, Lothians Rosie Kane, Glasgow Carolyn Leckie, Central Scotland Tommy Sheridan, Glasgow John Swinburne, Central Scotland Campbell Martin, West of Scotland - Former SNP MSP Jean Turner and Bearsden Turnout in the election was 51.7% in the constituency vote and 52.4% in the regional vote up from 2003 where the turnout was 49.4% in both the constituency and regional vote Notes: Independents contested 17 seats and three regions.
Scottish Greens contested 1 seat, Scottish Socialist Party contested 1 seat, Scottish Christian Party, Scottish Voice etc. contested a small number of seats. A number of local issue parties stood in single constituencies; the Nine Per Cent Growth Party stood candidates on the regional lists, had a candidate for the local council elections of the same year. Standing in the Glasgow Regional List the party finished last of 23 candidates, receiving only 80 votes, a record low; some counts in the Western Isles were delayed because the chartered helicopter sent to pick up the ballot boxes was delayed by bad weather. The boxes were instead transferred by road to be counted in Stornoway; the votes were announced around 12.00 on Friday 4 May. A man smashed ballot boxes with a golf club at a polling station at Carrick Knowe in Corstorphine in Edinburgh. About 100 ballots were damaged; the man was arrested on the scene. The number of'invalid' ballot papers has increased from previous elections, the BBC reported that 142,000 were rejected.
The Herald reported that this included both constituency and regional
2003 Scottish Parliament election
The Scottish Parliament election, 2003, was the second election of members to the Scottish Parliament. It was held on 1 May 2003 and it brought no change in terms of control of the Scottish Executive. Jack McConnell, the Labour Party Member of the Scottish Parliament, remained in office as First Minister and the Executive continued as a Labour and Liberal Democrat coalition; as of 2019, it remains the last general election victory for the Scottish Labour Party. The results showed rises in support for smaller parties, including the Scottish Green Party and the Scottish Socialist Party and declines in support for the Labour Party and the Scottish National Party; the Conservative and Unionist Party and the Scottish Liberal Democrats each polled exactly the same percentage of the vote as they had in the 1999 election, with each holding the same number of seats as before. Three independent MSPs were elected: Dennis Canavan, Margo MacDonald and Jean Turner. John Swinburne, leader of the Scottish Senior Citizens Unity Party, was elected.
This led to talk of a "rainbow" Parliament, but the arithmetic meant that the coalition of Labour and Scottish Liberal Democrats could continue in office, which they did until the 2007 election. The decline in support for the SNP was viewed by some as a rejection of the case for Scottish independence. Others argued against this, pointing out that the number of MSPs in favour of independence rose because most of the minor parties such as the SSP share this position with the SNP. At the dissolution of Parliament on 31 March 2003, ten MSPs were not seeking re-election; the parliament was dissolved on 31 March 2003 and the campaign began thereafter. Labour – Jack McConnell SNP – John Swinney Conservative – David McLetchie Liberal Democrat – Jim Wallace Greens – Robin Harper & Eleanor Scott SSP – Tommy Sheridan Brian Fitzpatrick and Bearsden Rhoda Grant and Islands Iain Gray, Edinburgh Pentlands Angus MacKay, Edinburgh South Richard Simpson, Mid Scotland and Fife Elaine Thomson, Aberdeen North Kenneth Gibson, Glasgow Irene McGugan, North East Scotland Fiona McLeod, West of Scotland Gil Paterson, Central Scotland Lloyd Quinan, West of Scotland Michael Russell, South of Scotland Andrew Wilson, Central Scotland Keith Harding, Mid Scotland and Fife Lyndsay McIntosh, Central Scotland Notes: 1.
The Scottish Greens did not stand in any constituencies, instead concentrating their resources on winning the largest possible share of the "second" vote for'list' seats. 2. Three independents were elected: Margo MacDonald, Dennis Canavan and Jean Turner. 4. Overall turnout was 49.4%, down on the 1999 election. As part of the coalition deal between Labour and the Scottish Liberal Democrats, Labour allowed proportional representation to be used in Scottish local government elections; this system was first used in 2007. The Lib Dems declared a total of £130,358 was spent on the campaign, SSP spent £74,361 the Greens spent £65,852 and the Scottish Senior Citizens' Unity Party spent 3,558; the Scottish People's Alliance spent £188,889 and UKIP spent £39,504. Members of the Scottish Parliament, 2003-2007 Welsh Assembly election, 2003 and United Kingdom local elections, 2003 the same day British National Party- Freedom Pro-Life Alliance Scottish Liberal Democrats- Make the difference Scottish National Party- Release our potential Scottish Socialist Party – another Scotland is possible BBC: Vote Scotland 2003 Scottish Election Results 1997 – present
Next Scottish Parliament election
The next Scottish Parliament election is due to be held on 6 May, 2021 to elect 129 members to the Scottish Parliament. It would be the sixth election since the parliament was established in 1999. Five parties had MSPs in the fifth parliament: Scottish National Party led by First Minister Nicola Sturgeon, Scottish Conservatives led by Ruth Davidson, Scottish Labour Party led by Richard Leonard, Scottish Greens, led by their co-conveners Patrick Harvie and Maggie Chapman, the Scottish Liberal Democrats, led by Willie Rennie. Under the Scotland Act 1998, an ordinary general election to the Scottish Parliament would have been held on the first Thursday in May four years after the 2016 election, i.e. in May 2020. This would have clashed with the proposed date of the 2020 United Kingdom general election but became a moot point when the latter was brought forward to 2017. In November 2015, the Scottish Government published a Scottish Elections Bill, which proposed to extend the term of the Parliament to five years.
That Bill was passed by the Scottish Parliament on 25 February 2016 and received Royal Assent on 30 March 2016, setting the new date for the election as 6 May 2021. The date of the poll may be varied by up to one month either way by the monarch, on the proposal of the Presiding Officer. If Parliament itself resolves that it should be dissolved, with at least two-thirds of the Members voting in favour, the Presiding Officer proposes a date for an extraordinary general election and the Parliament is dissolved by the monarch by royal proclamation, it does not require a two-thirds majority to precipitate an extraordinary general election, because under the Scotland Act Parliament is dissolved if it fails to nominate one of its members to be First Minister within certain time limits, irrespective of whether at the beginning or in the middle of a parliamentary term. Therefore, if the First Minister resigned, Parliament would have 28 days to elect a successor. If no new First Minister was elected the Presiding Officer would ask for Parliament to be dissolved under s3a.
This process could be triggered if the First Minister lost a vote of confidence by a simple majority, as s/he must resign. To date the Parliament has never held a confidence vote on a First Minister. No extraordinary general elections have been held to date. Any extraordinary general elections would be in addition to ordinary general elections, unless held less than six months before the due date of an ordinary general election, in which case they supplant it. However, this will not affect the year in which the subsequent ordinary general election will be held; the total number of Members of the Scottish Parliament elected to the Parliament is 129. The Scottish Parliament uses an Additional Members System, designed to produce approximate proportional representation for each region. There are each sub-divided into smaller constituencies. There are a total of 73 constituencies; each constituency elects one MSP by the plurality system of election. Each region elects 7 additional MSPs using an additional member system.
A modified D'Hondt method, using the constituency results, is used to elect these additional MSPs. The boundaries of the 73 constituencies last changed as of the 2011 Scottish Parliament election, as did the configuration of the electoral regions used to elect "list" members of the Scottish Parliament; these revisions were the outcome of the First Periodical Review of the Scottish Parliament's constituencies and regions conducted by the Boundary Commission for Scotland. The Scottish Parliament constituencies have not been coterminous with Scottish Westminster constituencies since the 2005 general election, when the 72 former UK Parliament constituencies were replaced with a new set of 59 larger, constituencies; the size difference between Westminster and Holyrood boundaries is due to diverge further upon the implementation of the Sixth Periodic Review of Westminster constituencies, which will further reduce the number of Scottish Westminster constituencies to 53. Various organisations carry out opinion polling to gauge voting intention ahead of the election.
Below are listed all the constituencies which require a swing of less than 5% from the 2016 results to change hands
Nicola Ferguson Sturgeon is a Scottish politician serving as the fifth and current First Minister of Scotland and leader of the Scottish National Party since November 2014. She is the first woman to hold either position. Sturgeon has been a member of the Scottish Parliament since 1999, first as an additional member for the Glasgow electoral region from 1999 to 2007 and as the member for Glasgow Southside since 2007. A law graduate of the University of Glasgow, Sturgeon worked as a solicitor in Glasgow. After being elected to the Scottish Parliament, she served successively as the SNP's shadow minister for education and justice. In 2004 she announced that she would stand as a candidate for the leadership of the SNP following the resignation of John Swinney. However, she withdrew from the contest in favour of Alex Salmond, standing instead as depute leader on a joint ticket with Salmond. Both were subsequently elected, as Salmond was still an MP in the House of Commons, Sturgeon led the SNP in the Scottish Parliament from 2004 to 2007.
The SNP won the highest number of seats in the Scottish Parliament in the 2007 election and Salmond was subsequently appointed First Minister. He appointed Sturgeon as Deputy First Cabinet Secretary for Health and Wellbeing, she was appointed as Cabinet Secretary for Infrastructure and Cities in 2012. Following the defeat of the "Yes" campaign in the 2014 Scottish independence referendum, Salmond announced that he would be resigning as party leader at the SNP party conference that November, would resign as First Minister after a new leader was chosen. No one else was nominated for the post by the time nominations closed, leaving Sturgeon to take the party leadership unopposed at the SNP's annual conference, she was formally elected to succeed Salmond as First Minister on 19 November. Forbes magazine ranked Sturgeon as the 50th most powerful woman in the world in 2016 and 2nd in the United Kingdom. In 2015, BBC Radio 4's Woman's Hour assessed Sturgeon to be the most powerful and influential woman in the United Kingdom.
Nicola Ferguson Sturgeon was born in Ayrshire Central Hospital in Irvine, on 19 July 1970. She is the eldest of three daughters born to Robin Sturgeon, an electrician, Joan Kerr Sturgeon, a dental nurse, her family has some roots in North East England. Sturgeon grew up in Dreghorn, she attended Dreghorn Primary School from 1975 to 1982 and Greenwood Academy from 1982 to 1988. She studied at the University of Glasgow, where she studied Law. Sturgeon graduated with a Bachelor of Laws in 1992 and a Diploma in Legal Practice the following year. During her time at Glasgow University she was active as a member of the Glasgow University Scottish Nationalist Association and the students' representative council. Following her graduation, Sturgeon completed her legal traineeship at McClure Naismith, a Glasgow firm of solicitors, in 1995. After qualifying as a solicitor, she worked for Bell & Craig, a firm of solicitors in Stirling, at the Drumchapel Law Centre in Glasgow from 1997 until her election to the Scottish Parliament in 1999.
In an interview with BBC's Women's Hour, Sturgeon revealed that it was Margaret Thatcher that inspired her to enter politics, due to rising unemployment in Scotland at the time, she developed "a strong feeling that it was wrong for Scotland to be governed by a Tory government that we hadn't elected". Sturgeon joined the Scottish National Party in 1986, having become a member of the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament, became their Youth Affairs Vice Convener and Publicity Vice Convener, she first stood for election in the 1992 general election as the SNP candidate in the Glasgow Shettleston constituency, was the youngest parliamentary candidate in Scotland, failing to win the seat. Sturgeon stood unsuccessfully as the SNP candidate for the Irvine North ward on Cunninghame District Council in May 1992, for the Baillieston/Mount Vernon ward on Strathclyde Regional Council in 1994, for the Bridgeton ward on Glasgow City Council in 1995. In the mid-1990s, Sturgeon and Charles Kennedy went together on a political study visit to Australia.
The 1997 general election saw Sturgeon selected to fight the Glasgow Govan seat for the SNP. Boundary changes meant. However, infighting between the two rival candidates for the Labour nomination, Mohammed Sarwar and Mike Watson, along with an energetic local campaign, resulted in Glasgow Govan being the only Scottish seat to see a swing away from Labour in the midst of a Labour landslide nationwide. Sarwar did, win the seat with a majority of 2,914 votes. Shortly after this, Sturgeon was appointed as the SNP's spokesperson for energy and education matters. Sturgeon stood for election to the Scottish Parliament in the first Scottish Parliament election in 1999 as the SNP candidate for Glasgow Govan. Although she failed to win the seat, she was placed first in the SNP's regional list for the Glasgow region, was thus elected as a Member of the Scottish Parliament. During the first term of the Scottish Parliament, Sturgeon served as a member of the Shadow Cabinets of both Alex Salmond and John Swinney.
She was Shadow Minister for Children and Education from 1999 to 2000, Shadow Minister for Health and Community Care from 2000 to 2003, Shadow Minister for Justice from 2003 to 2004. She served as a member of the Education and Sport Committee and the Health and Community Care Committee. On 22 June 2004, John Swinney resigned as Leader of the SNP following poor results in the Eu