NICOLA Sturgeon will today be confirmed as First Minister after her second Holyrood election win, following a ritual vote by MSPs.

Ms Sturgeon, who led the SNP to within a seat of an overall majority, will face competition for the First Minister’s job from Scottish Liberal Democrat leader Willie Rennie.

Douglas Ross is also expected to put his name forward, enabling him to make his first set piece speech to the parliament as the Scottish Conservative leader.

Scottish Labour leader Anas Sarwar will not be present for the occasion as he is self-isolating after a member of his family tested positive for Covid-19.

The Glasgow MSP, who lives in Pollokshields, a hotspot for the new Indian variant of the virus, has so far tested negative.

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Under the 1998 Scotland Act which created the Scottish Parliament, the First Minister must be elected by MSPs within 28 days or a fresh election is held.

Nominations will open this morning for four hours, and the contest will open at 2pm.

Last week, the election of two deputy presiding officers drove many MSPs to distraction with hours of elimination rounds, ballot printing and count supervising.

However the instant digital voting system will be used today instead.

Although the choice of FM after each Holyrood election so far has been a foregone conclusion, party leaders and independents have put themselves forward to ensure they can make a speech and set out their priorities for the session ahead.

The only time there has been a single nominee was in 2011, after Alex Salmond won an overall majority for the SNP.

After Ms Sturgeon is confirmed as the parliament’s choice for First Minister today she will attend a formal swearing in ceremony at the Court of Session before Scotland’s most senior judges tomorrow.

She will also set the wheels of her cabinet reshuffle in motion, filling four places left empty by MSPs stepping down at the election.

They including the critical brief on the constitution, last held by Mike Russell, with the new holder working on a possible second independence referendum.

After prolonged opposition criticism, Deputy First Minister John Swinney is likely to be moved out of the education portfolio.

MSPs will then vote to confirm new ministers on Thursday, when Holyrood’s corporate management body will also be elected.

Mr Rennie, who also stood for FM in 2016, said: “In a parliament of minorities it is important that there is a challenge. This should not just be an SNP cakewalk.

“Nicola Sturgeon and Douglas Ross are both obstacles on the path to tackling the issues that really matter. They both want to spend the next five years arguing over independence.

“As First Minister I would focus on education, mental health, jobs and the climate emergency. That’s a positive plan for Scotland. That’s how we put recovery first.”