Scottish Health Secretary Humza Yousaf and former minister Ash Regan are the first two to throw their hats in the ring to replace Nicola Sturgeon.
Mr Yousaf said he had been through a ‘rollercoaster of emotions’ after Scotland’s first minister’s shock announcement this week.
A perennial frontbencher in every SNP administration since 2011, he has long been viewed as a potential successor.
Announcing his bid for SNP leadership in the Sunday Mail, he said: ‘You’ve got to put yourself forward if you think you’re the best person for the job. And I do’, he said.
‘This is the top job in the country, and it needs somebody who has experience.’
Despite his success in politics, Mr Yousaf has recently faced controversy surrounding the Hate Crime and Public Order (Scotland) Bill – which faced criticisms over its impact on freedom of expression.
He has also met criticism over his stewardship of the NHS, which has faced one of the hardest winters in its history.
Former community safety minister Ms Regan recently quit her post in protest against the Gender Recognition Reform (Scotland) Bill.
She said a line ‘needs to be drawn under certain things’ in her announcement.
Also writing in the Sunday Mail, Ms Regan said: ‘We need to bring back unity, draw a line under certain things and move past them. I believe I am the person to do that.
‘The electorate expect the Scottish Government to focus on things that are important to them.
‘That means the NHS which is still struggling to get back on its feet after the pandemic. People expect a First Minister to concentrate on boosting the economy, creating jobs and helping them deal with the cost-of-living crisis.’
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