March 07, 2023 12:57 GMT
Sturgeon Protege Yousaf Leads FM Betting Markets Ahead Of TV Debates
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Cabinet Secretary for Health Humza Yousaf tops the betting market for who will succeed First Minister Nicola Sturgeon as leader of the pro-independence Scottish National Party (SNP) and head of the Scottish gov't. Data from Smarkets shows Yousaf, seen as a protege of Sturgeon who would maintain much of her policy platform, with a 58.1% implied probability of becoming the next FM.
- Cabinet Secretary for Finance Kate Forbes is in second place with a 40.0% implied probability. Her odds have recovered from the start of the race, when her more socially conservative views were seen to have done damage to her campaign. However, since then Yousaf's track record in the health brief and Forbes' offer of a 'new start' as opposed to continuity-Sturgeon policies has seen her recover some support.
- Yousaf, Forbes, and the third candidate - Ash Regan MSP - engage in the first of four televised debates tonight at 2100GMT on STV. The remaining debates take place on 9 March (Channel 4-UK wide), 13 March (Sky News-UK wide), and 14 March (BBC Scotland). Voting open from 13-27 March.
- The next SNP head will have a notable impact on the nature of the political fight for independence in the coming years. While both Yousaf and Forbes have warned against using the next UK general election as a de-facto referendum, Regan has voiced support for using any election as a 'permanent trigger point' for seeking an independence referendum.
Chart 1. Betting Market Implied Probability on Next Scottish FM, %