April 9 – Nicola Sturgeon first stands for elected office in the 1992 General Election in Glasgow Shettleston as the youngest candidate in the country at the time. The 21-year-old fails to unseat Labour incumbent David Marshall but comes second and increases the SNP vote by 6.4%


May 6 – Sturgeon is elected as an MSP in the first Holyrood election, representing the Glasgow region.


September 3 – Sturgeon is voted in as deputy leader of the SNP, with Alex Salmond returning as leader.


May 17 – The SNP win the Holyrood election, forming a minority administration with Salmond at its helm. She becomes Deputy First Minister, as well as being health secretary until 2012 and infrastructure secretary until 2014.


October 15 – David Cameron and Salmond sign the Edinburgh Agreement, setting the date for a referendum on Scottish independence for September 18, 2014. Sturgeon will play a leading role in the campaign.


September 18 – The Yes campaign loses the referendum by 55% to 45%. Salmond resigns as First Minister the following day, with only Sturgeon tipped to replace him.

November 14 – Sturgeon is elected leader of the SNP unopposed, with Stewart Hosie as her deputy.

November 19 – Sturgeon is elected First Minister in a Holyrood vote, becoming the first woman to hold the role, thanks to the SNP majority win at the 2011 election. She wins 66 votes, compared to Scottish Tory leader Ruth Davidson’s 15, with 39 abstentions.

November 20 – Sturgeon is sworn into office at the Court of Session.


May 7 – The SNP cruise to a historic triumph in the UK General Election, six months into Sturgeon’s leadership, winning 56 of the 59 seats in Scotland.


May 5 – The SNP slide back in the Holyrood election losing six seats and the party’s overall majority in the face of a surge for the Scottish Conservatives. However, the SNP remain the largest party, with 63 MSPs, and continue as a minority government. The SNP will repeatedly seek help from the Scottish Greens to pass budgets and other key legislation.

June 23 – The UK votes to leave the European Union in a referendum by 52% to 48%. Some 62% of Scottish voters supported remaining within the bloc. Sturgeon, in a speech the following day, said there had been a “material change” in the circumstances within the UK and a second independence vote was “highly likely”.


March 28 – The Scottish Parliament votes by 69-59 to allow the Scottish Government to begin talks on a Section 30 order, which would devolve the powers to hold another vote to Holyrood. Then prime minister Theresa May, in the first of a long line of rejections on the issue, says “now is not the time” for another vote.

June 8 – The SNP drop 21 seats in the General Election, falling to 35 MPs, on a manifesto calling for an independence referendum to be held “after the Brexit process”.

Sturgeon tells MSPs she will put planning for another vote on hold, saying some Scots “just want a break from the pressure of making big political decisions”.


January – Two female staff members make formal complaints to the Scottish Government about Alex Salmond’s conduct in December 2013 when he was first minister. An internal investigation is established and investigating officer Judith Mackinnon is appointed.

August – The Crown Office passes complaints about Salmond to police. The Daily Record newspaper breaks news of the allegations against Salmond in a tweet. Salmond lodges a petition for a judicial review at the Court of Session in Edinburgh.

September 14 – Police confirm they have launched an investigation into the complaints against Salmond.


January – A week before the judicial review is due to start, the Scottish Government concedes defeat at the Court of Session. The Government’s lawyers accept that investigating officer Judith Mackinnon had previous contact with the complainers. The court concludes the investigation was therefore “unlawful” and “tainted by apparent bias”. Salmond is awarded more than £500,000 as a result of the ruling. Sturgeon refers herself to independent advisers to rule on whether she breached the ministerial code in her meetings with Salmond.

December 12 – The SNP vote rebounds in the General Election, with the party returning 48 MPs. The success results in the First Minister ramping up calls for another independence referendum.


March 1 – Scotland records its first case of Covid-19 in Tayside.

March 9 – Salmond’s criminal trial starts at the High Court in Edinburgh.

March 23 – Sturgeon announces Scotland will be placed into lockdown as a result of the increasing coronavirus cases.

  • Salmond is acquitted of all 13 charges against him.

August 18 – A Holyrood committee set up to investigate the handling of complaints against Salmond hears evidence from its first witness, then permanent secretary Leslie Evans.


February 26 – Salmond gives evidence to the Holyrood committee. He calls for Evans to resign and says he has “no doubt” Sturgeon broke rules governing the behaviour of ministers, which she denies.

March – Sturgeon gives evidence to the committee and maintains she did not intervene in the investigation. She said Salmond’s claims of a plot against him are “absurd”. An independent report by judge James Hamilton QC clears the First Minister of breaching the ministerial code but the Committee on the Scottish Government Handling of Harassment Complaints finds Sturgeon misled MSPs while giving evidence. Sturgeon survives a vote of no confidence, brought by the Scottish Tories

May – The SNP increase their number of MSPs to 64 in the Holyrood election. The First Minister later announces she is in talks with the Scottish Greens over a potential agreement between the two parties.

August 20 – A co-operation agreement between the two parties is announced.

October 31 – COP26 opens in Glasgow. The First Minister was at the conference for most of the two weeks, meeting with foreign dignitaries.