This week saw John Swinney sworn in as Scotland's seventh First Minister in the 25 years since the devolved parliament was established.

In that quarter of a century there's been no shortage of intrigue, with Holyrood experiencing a vote for independence, Britain's exit from the European Union, a global pandemic and the Scottish Senior Citizens Unity Party.

Here are the seven men and women to have led the nation since the parliament was re-established.

Donald Dewar (1999-2000)

The Herald: Donald Dewar

Considered the father of devolution, Mr Dewar had campaigned for a Scottish Parliament in the unsuccessful 1979 referendum. Tony Blair's Labour Party campaigned in 1997 on the pledge to deliver a second plebiscite.

The MP for Glasgow Anniesland was appointed secretary of state for Scotland and set in motion the process of establishing a Scottish Parliament. The referendum delivered a resounding Yes-Yes vote and parliament sat for the first time in 300 years on May 13, where Mr Dewar was appointed First Minister.

A year later though he was appointed to Glasgow Royal Infirmary for treatment on a heart condition, not making a further public appearance until August 2000. He took a fall outside of his official residence on October 10, complained of feeling unwell, was diagnosed as having suffered a brain haemorrhage and died early the following morning.

A statue to him stands at the top of Buchanan Street in Glasgow.

Henry McLeish (2000-2001)

The Herald:

To date Scotland's shortest-serving First Minister, Mr McLeish continued the Labour-Lib Dem coalition following Mr Dewar's death.

He lasted just a year and 12 days before being forced to resign amid the Officegate expenses scandal after he failed to declare income from sub-letting an office in Glenrothes.

Mr McLeish subsequently said he would support independence if the UK left the EU against Scotland's wishes in the wake of the Brexit referendum, and in 2021 he told The Herald that "yes, I would support independence... if I'm convinced that the union will not change".

Jack McConnell (2001-2007)

The Herald: Former First Minister Jack McConnellFormer First Minister Jack McConnell (Image: Gordon Terris)

Mr McConnell was elected unopposed as Mr McLeish's successor, winning the support of Holyrood on November 22, 2001.

He was re-elected following the 2003 Scottish Parliament election which saw Labour win 50 seats and once again enter into coalition with the Liberal Democrats.

His flagship piece of legislation was the indoor smoking ban, which made Scotland the first country in the UK to ban lighting up in bars, restaurants and on public transport, among other places.

Mr McConnell stood to be First Minister again following the 2007 referendum, but with the SNP as the largest party and the Lib Dems refusing to join a coalition he was unable to win the vote.

Alex Salmond (2007-2014)

The Herald: Alex Salmond

The first nationalist leader of the new parliament, Mr Salmond's SNP took 47 seats to Labour's 46 in the 2007 election.

He was elected First Minister after winning the support of the two Green MSPs, beating Mr McConnell by 49 votes to 46 and forming a minority administration.

By any yardstick, Mr Salmond is one of the most influential figures in a post-devolution Scotland.

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Ahead of Holyrood being established, shadow Scottish secretary George Robinson declared "Devolution will kill Nationalism stone dead", while the voting system was designed to prevent any one party attaining a majority.

In 2011, however, standing on a platform which included a referendum on independence, the SNP closed a double-digit polling gap to win a shock majority of four, taking 53.5% of the vote nationally.

A referendum was duly held three years later, and while support for independence rose throughout the campaign, Scots voted by 55% to 45% to remain as part of the UK.

Mr Salmond duly resigned as First Minister.

Nicola Sturgeon (2014-2023)

The Herald: Nicola Sturgeon

Mr Salmond's former deputy was elected unopposed to replace him, and would go on to be the country's longest-serving First Minister.

Riding a wave of nationalist support following the referendum loss, the SNP took 56 of the 59 Scottish seats at the 2015 Westminster election.

In the Holyrood election the following year, Ms Sturgeon's party full just short of a majority but remained by far the largest party and formed a minority government.

Her administration was marked by both a spectacular fallout with Mr Salmond, and repeated unsuccessful attempts to secure a second vote on independence.

Ms Sturgeon's predecessor was accused - and later cleared - of multiple cases of sexual harassment, with questions about what his deputy had known and when,  and her government's handling of an investigation into the matter.

She proposed a second referendum on independence in the wake of the Brexit vote, which was rejected by the UK government, and set a new target of 19 October 2023 for a ballot which, when it was rejected, was subject to a challenge at the Supreme Court.

The case was lost.

Ms Sturgeon enjoyed a considerable boost in the polls for her handling of the Covid pandemic, but her popularity took a knock amid an investigation into the use of party finances and controversy over the Bute House Agreement which she had agreed with the Scottish Greens in 2021.

She resigned in February 2023, but remains a backbench MSP.

Humza Yousaf (2023-2024)

The Herald: Humza Yousaf

The campaign to replace Ms Sturgeon was a bruising and brutal one, with Mr Yousaf seen very much as the continuity candidate while Kate Forbes offered a different vision and Ash Regan was more aligned with the Alex Salmond wing of the party.

None of the three could command over 50% of members' votes in the first round, with Mr Yousaf coming closest on 48.2%.

Ms Regan was eliminated and he duly defeated Ms Forbes by 52% to 48%, but would lead the party for only 13 months.

Following controversy over the Hate Crime Act and Gender Recognition Reform, elements within his party called for an end to the power-sharing agreement with the Greens.

When the Scottish Government scrapped climate change targets, elements of the Greens, in turn, also called on their party to leave Mr Yousaf scrapped the deal.

Somewhat inevitably this led to a motion for a vote of no confidence in his First Ministership, equally unsurprisingly the jilted Greens refused to support him and he was forced to resign.

John Swinney (2024)

The Herald:

Mr Swinney takes the reins in his second spell as party leader looking to dispel the notion he's little more than a Sam Allardyce style "safe pair of hands" to see the SNP through to the next Holyrood election: "give it Big John until the end of the parliament".

Kate Forbes being made deputy First Minister will do nothing to quell talk of her taking the top job, and what of Stephen Flynn moving to Holyrood in 2026?