London, Feb 15 (EFE).- Nicola Sturgeon announced her decision to resign as Scotland’s first minister and the leader of her pro-independence Scottish National Party in a surprise move Wednesday that will shake up the national political landscape.
Sturgeon, the longest-serving first minister and the first woman to hold the office, told a news conference at her official Edinburgh residence Bute House that the decision was not a reaction to short-term political pressures but was rather part of a “deeper and longer term assessment.”
“Since my very first moments in the job I have believed that part of serving well would be to know almost instinctively when the time was right to make way for someone else,” she said.
“In my head and in my heart I know that time is now. That it is right for me, for my party and my country.”
She said she would remain in the post until the process of drawing up her replacement is concluded.
“Giving absolutely everything of yourself for this job is the only way to do it, the country deserves nothing less, but that can only be done by anyone for so long,” she added.
“For me that is now in danger of becoming too long.”
Sturgeon, who has long been Scotland’s most prominent politician, cited the pressures of the job, including guiding the nation through the Covid-19 pandemic, and its impact on her personal life as contributing factors to her decision.
“The nature and form of modern political discourse means there is a much greater intensity, dare I say brutality, to life as a politician than in years gone by.”
“For a long time, and without it being apparent, it takes its toll on you,” she said.
“A first minister is never off duty, particularly in this day and age where there is virtually no privacy. Even ordinary stuff that most people take for granted like going for a coffee with friends or for a walk on your own becomes very difficult.”
The departing first minister said she had seen discourse become increasingly polarized during her time in power.
“I feel more and more each day now that the fixed opinions people increasingly have about me, some fair and others a little more than caricature, are being used as barriers to reasoned debate in our country,” she said, adding that she hoped her resignation could help bring about the “depolarization of public debate.”
The 52-year-old took the role of first minister from her former mentor Alex Salmond following the 2014 independence referendum, in which Scots voted to remain as a member of the United Kingdom.
Under her leadership, the SNP has retained its status as Scotland’s dominant political force and is currently the third largest party in the United Kingdom.
However in recent weeks her party suffered a number of political setbacks and schisms over how to approach a second independence referendum and reforms to gender laws that were blocked by the UK government.