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SNP to begin search for new leader

The Scottish National Party has a vacancy for a leader for the first time in a decade.

Alex Salmond will step down in November and his successor will assume the position of First Minister until the next Holyrood election in May 2016.

As his deputy it looks likely that Nicola Sturgeon will be the one to pick the party up after a No vote for independence and help drive the promise of further devolution forward.

The SNP will nominate its new leader and second in command at its annual conference in Perth in less than two months' time.

How will that process go?

:: Alex Salmond will remain First Minister until a new leader is nominated. It will then be up to the Scottish Parliament to agree with that choice.

:: The First Minister is a member of the Scottish Parliament and as such is appointed by royal warrant following a vote by MSPs to nominate the individual.

:: Having received the royal warrant, the First Minister will be sworn in at the Court of Session in Edinburgh in front of the Lord President and other senior judges.

:: The new Scottish leader will assume responsibility for the overall development, implementation and presentation of the Holyrood administration's policies and for promoting and representing Scotland at home and overseas.

:: The First Minister will appoint other ministers, including a Deputy First Minister and cabinet secretaries, from among MSPs. He or she also recommends to the Queen the appointment of law officers the Lord Advocate and Solicitor General.

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