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Deputy First Minister of Scotland Nicola Sturgeon addressing a press conference for international media in Edinburgh on 11 September, ahead of the referendum on Scotland's independence. Scottish Deputy First Minister Nicola Sturgeon will take over leadership of the government in Edinburgh from Alex Salmond following his resignation after voters rejected their campaign for independence.

The Scottish National Party, which runs the semi-autonomous administration that pushed for last month's referendum on leaving Britain, said Wednesday that Sturgeon, 44, was the only nominee to replace Salmond as leader. SNP members will approve her appointment at their conference next month.

Sturgeon, a lawyer by training who worked in deprived areas of Glasgow, takes over a party whose membership has more than tripled since the ballot. While 55 per cent of voters opted to remain in the United Kingdom, 1.6 million embraced the SNP's flagship policy of independence. Her main task is to press Prime Minister David Cameron to follow through on the promises he made during the campaign to cede more power to Scotland.

"Alex is a hard act to follow but I am determined to lead the SNP, and the country, from strength to strength," Sturgeon said in an emailed statement. "I will always make the case for Scotland to be an independent country, but with the Westminster parties already backsliding on the delivery of new powers, my immediate job will be to hold them firmly to account."

Salmond, 59, announced he would step down a day after losing the 18 September vote. He and Sturgeon had spearheaded the campaign for independence since the SNP won a majority in the Scottish Parliament in 2011 and tabled the vote.

The SNP is scheduled to hold its conference in Perth on 13-15 November, when Sturgeon will be formally anointed. Membership stands at more than 80,000 compared with 25,000 before the referendum, according to the party.

Rodney Jefferson – Bloomberg News
Image: Andy Buchanan / AFP / Lehtikuva