MORE than half of voters want Nicola Sturgeon to stay as First Minister for the next five years, a poll has suggested.

The Panelbase survey of 2038 voters found that 52% would prefer Sturgeon to remain in post for the rest of the parliamentary term until 2026.

Around a third (34%) want the SNP leader to quit, while 14% are unsure, The Times newspaper reports.

According to the survey, even among Labour supporters, 48% want Sturgeon to remain in Bute House, and 36% of LibDem voters feel the same.

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Surprisingly, one fifth (18%) of Tory voters want Sturgeon to stay as First Minister.

And, amongst SNP supporters, 85% back her staying on until the end of the Holyrood term.

The poll also looked at who people think are the most likely to succeed Nicola Sturgeon when she does retire from front line politics.

Numerous new reports have suggested the FM might be ready to leave politics, despite the fact she made a £50 bet with Tory leader Douglas Ross that she would not step down before the next election.

The National:

Kate Forbes was voted most popular success to the FM in the poll

It came after Ross claimed in a Telegraph article that he expected Sturgeon to quit as leader before 2026 because she “just looks a bit fed up at times”.

Panelbase found that 64% of voters in Scotland don’t have a clear idea of who the next SNP leaders should be.

Of the respondendents, Finance Secretary Kate Forbes came out on top, but with only 7% backing her for next in line to the leadership job.

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Deputy First Minister and former SNP leader John Swinney is next with just 6% of voters thinking he would be a suitable successor.

Health Secretary Humza Yousaf, Westminster SNP leader Ian Blackford and MP Joanna Cherry were backed by 5% of voters, while constitution minister Angus Robertson only had support from 4%.

The National:

John Swinney (left) and Humza Yousaf (right) were also named as possible successors

Net zero, energy and transport minister Michael Matheson got 2% of support, while SNP deputy leader and justice secretary Keith Brown only had 1%.

The results differed slightly among SNP supporters, but Forbes still came out on top with 11% backing from respondents.

Blackford comes in second, on 8%, followed by Swinney and Robertson on 7%, Yousaf on 6%, Cherry on 5%, Brown on 2% and Matheson on 1%.

Sir John Curtice, professor of politics at Strathclyde University, said that there were risks in Sturgeon overshadowing colleagues.

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He said: “While her ubiquity might reflect her effectiveness as a communicator, a strong leader is also one who enables their colleagues to shine, and gain the experience and authority needed to become a potential successor.”

We previously told that in a show of defiance after Ross’s claims in the Telegraph, Sturgeon bet the Scottish Tory leader £50 she would still be in place at the next Holyrood election.

The bet reportedly came as the two waited to meet the Queen at the official opening of the Scottish Parliament.