JOHN Swinney is set to be the seventh first minister of Scotland.

The MSP and former deputy first minister is expected to be crowned leader of the SNP on Monday, once nominations in the race to replace Humza Yousaf close.

By Thursday, Kate Forbes was the only serious candidate other than Swinney left standing – but she pulled out of the running in a statement issued after First Minister’s Questions.

Earlier in the day, Swinney had said that Forbes would have a senior role in a government he leads.

Forbes had been finance secretary under Nicola Sturgeon, but was offered the rural affairs brief under Yousaf. Forbes rejected the offer, which was widely seen as a demotion, and chose to sit as a backbencher.

READ MORE: Key moments in the political career of SNP leadership candidate John Swinney

Swinney was also sitting as a backbencher when Yousaf announced his resignation. He stepped back from frontline politics when Sturgeon – whom he served as deputy first minister for nearly nine years – resigned.

However, after Yousaf quit, Swinney was quickly being spoken about as a potential replacement, and on Thursday he told reporters: “I could have stood back and hoped others would sort things out, but I care too much about the future of Scotland and the Scottish National Party to walk on by."

The former deputy first minister had the support of Cabinet Secretaries including Angus Robertson, Mairi McAllan, Shirley-Anne Somerville, and Fiona Hyslop, as well as SNP Westminster leader Stephen Flynn.

Swinney told ITV Border he was "making a personal sacrifice to stand for leader of the SNP", saying he thought he had aimed to spend time with his family after stepping back from the frontbenches in 2023.

However, he added: "Times and circumstances change. The SNP is in a difficult position just now. It's not as cohesive as it needs to be.

"It needs to be brought back together again and I think I've got the skills and the attributes to make sure that can happen."

On Forbes, Swinney said: "We have many talented people leading the work of the Scottish government. I want Kate Forbes to play a significant part in that team.

"She is an intelligent, creative, thoughtful person who has much to contribute to our national life. And if elected, I will make sure that Kate is able to make that contribution.”

Once he is officially SNP leader – a role he previously held from 2000 to 2004 – Swinney will need to be confirmed as first minister.

MSPs will vote to confirm him in the role by a simple majority, meaning abstentions will not be counted.

The SNP have 63 MSPs in Holyrood, two fewer than the 65 of all five opposition parties combined. In the past, opposition parties have also nominated their leader to become the first minister.

In order to be confirmed in the role, Swinney will need to secure more votes than the other candidates combined.

If he gets the necessary number of votes, the SNP MSP will be appointed by royal warrant before being sworn in at the Court of Session.

The National:

The necessary processes are expected to take place next week, meaning Swinney (above) will officially become Scotland’s seventh first minister.

Since devolution in 1998, Scotland has had three Labour first ministers – Donald Dewar, Henry McLeish, and Jack McConnell – and three SNP first ministers – Alex Salmond, Nicola Sturgeon, and Humza Yousaf.

Swinney’s coronation is likely to upset some within the independence movement, who had called for the leadership race to be a true contest, not a coronation.

Writing in The National, Lesley Riddoch said: “I suppose it boils down to this – does the SNP need peace or disruption? (By which I mean spirited debate about policy and internal party procedure – not pointless, personal vitriol). I think it’s the latter, though I can well understand SNP leadership nerves.”