Greens MSP emerges as only candidate for Holyrood’s Presiding Officer

Scottish Greens MSP Alison Johnstone looks set to become Holyrood’s new Presiding Officer for the next five years.

Ms Johnstone was the only nomination received to replace the outgoing Ken Macintosh, who served in the last parliamentary term.

The Presiding Officer, the equivalent of the Speaker in the House of Commons, relinquishes party affiliation and sits as a non-partisan MSP for the duration of their term.

Holyrood chamber
MSPs were sworn into office on Thursday (Andrew Cowan/Scottish Parliament/PA)

If Ms Johnstone’s election is confirmed – with an announcement expected shortly before 5pm – it will mean the chamber is split between the ruling SNP and opposition parties – with 64 seats each.

The Greens MSP, recently elected to her third term as a representative for the Lothian region, will be the second woman to hold the position and the first member of the Scottish Greens.

The election comes as MSPs have been sworn into office on Thursday.

Outgoing Presiding Officer Ken Macintosh, who decided not to stand in the election, ran proceedings, which require MSPs to pledge their allegiance to the Queen before they are allowed to undertake any parliamentary duties or receive their MSP salary.

If the oath or affirmation is not taken within two months, they will lose their seat.

MSPs sworn in
SNP leader Nicola Sturgeon was the first MSP to be sworn in (Russell Cheyne/PA)

The First Minister made an affirmation, followed by Scottish Conservative leader Douglas Ross and Scottish Labour leader Anas Sarwar taking the oath.

Beforehand, Ms Sturgeon said the SNP “pledges loyalty to the people of Scotland in line with the Scottish constitutional tradition of the sovereignty of the people”.

Ahead of his affirmation, Scottish Greens co-leader Patrick Harvie said he wanted to reassert that his party’s “allegiance lies with the people of Scotland who elected this Parliament and who are sovereign, and we look forward to the day when they can choose their own elected head of state”.

His fellow Greens co-leader Lorna Slater also chose to affirm.

Douglas Ross
Douglas Ross, leader of the Scottish Conservatives, takes the oath (Russell Cheyne/PA)

Scottish Liberal Democrat leader Willie Rennie was the last party leader to be sworn in and he took the oath.

The rest of the MSPs are being sworn in in alphabetical order.

A number of MSPs will take their oath in a language other than English, including Scots, Gaelic, Urdu, Orcadian, Doric and even, in the case of Zimbabwe-born North East Green MSP Maggie Chapman, Zimbabwean Shona.