MICHAEL Russell announced his resignation from his role as SNP president last week, leaving the party's top position vacant.

Russell was first appointed to the role of SNP president in 2020 and has now been recommended for appointment to be chair of the Scottish Land Commission, subject to the approval of the Scottish Parliament.

Humza Yousaf released a statement expressing his "heartfelt thanks" to Russell "for his outstanding contribution to the party over almost five decades – a true stalwart of the SNP and the wider independence movement".

So, what happens now and how is a new president elected?

Traditionally, the role of president in the SNP is an honorary one bestowed upon those who have shown “distinguished service to the party”. It is not an executive position and does not carry voting rights.

Previous party presidents include James Graham, Robert Cunninghame Graham, Roland Muirhead, Tom Gibson, Robert McIntyre, William Wolfe, Donald Stewart, Winnie Ewing (below), and Ian Hudghton.

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Under paragraph 31.2 of the party's constitution, it explains that "if a national office bearer’s post falls vacant before annual national conference, the vacancy may be filled by the national executive committee (NEC)".

However, under the NEC’s appointment standing order 12.3, “if it can do so, the committee will normally fill vacancies by asking the ballot services company to electronically re-run the internal election at the last annual national conference with resigned and ineligible candidates withdrawn".

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At the SNP’s annual party conference in October, Russell was challenged by land reform campaigner and SNP member Graeme McCormick.

When asked if the standing order would be considered, allowing McCormick to fill the role without a contest, the party said: "The NEC will discuss the matter at a future meeting and any announcement will be made in due course.”

Russell became president of the SNP in 2020, beating bids from former ambassador Craig Murray and ex-MP Corri Wilson – both of whom are now supporters of the Alba Party.