Sturgeon Realises Dream

Nicola Sturgeon is an avid fan of Borgen, the political TV drama in which a female centre-left politician becomes her country's first female leader.

Now it seems that her own life is taking a similar course to the Danish television show.

But while Birgitte Nyborg's rise to become the first female prime minister of Denmark is purely fictional, Ms Sturgeon is now firmly set to be Scotland's first woman First Minister.

She has made little attempt in recent years to hide her desire for the top job in Scottish politics and, after Alex Salmond announced his intention to step down in the wake of the referendum defeat, she was always the firm favourite to succeed him.

Ms Sturgeon has already spent 10 years as his deputy leader, and after the SNP came to power at Holyrood in 2007 she became the country's Deputy First Minister.

She also served for five years as health secretary, a job which saw her win plaudits for her handling of the swine flu outbreak.

But a Cabinet reshuffle in 2012 saw her role switched and, while she became Secretary for Infrastructure, Investment and Cities, she was also handed a critical role in the SNP's plans for the independence referendum.

Immediately after the appointment she took charge of talks already taking place with the Scotland Office to thrash out a deal over the staging of the historic vote.

When Prime Minister David Cameron travelled north to sign the Edinburgh Agreement with the First Minister in October 2012, Ms Sturgeon also added her signature to the document.

It was, she said, a ''watershed moment in Scotland's home rule journey''.

After joining the SNP when she was 16, it was a proud day for Ms Sturgeon, who is now something of a veteran in Scottish politics despite still only being 44.

Born in the North Ayrshire town of Irvine, she was educated locally before studying law at Glasgow University, going on to work as a solicitor at an advice centre in the Drumchapel area of the city.

She was the youngest candidate in Scotland when she first stood for Westminster in the 1992 general election, fighting the Glasgow Shettleston seat.

Ms Sturgeon tried again to win a seat in the Commons when she stood for election in 1997 - the year Tony Blair swept to power, wiping out the Tories in Scotland. The Glasgow Govan seat she contested was the only one north of the border to see a swing away from Labour.

Two years later the first Holyrood election was held. Ms Sturgeon was one of the new MSPs, representing the Glasgow region at first but later winning Glasgow Govan then the Glasgow Southside seat in 2007 and 2011 respectively.

Holyrood gave her a greater chance to shine, with Ms Sturgeon taking on frontbench posts within the party, speaking on issues such as justice and later health.

In 2004, when John Swinney quit as SNP leader, she threw her hat into the ring for the top job.

But when Mr Salmond announced he would stand for a second time - he had led the Nationalists for a decade between 1990 and 2000 - she became his running mate, standing for the position of deputy leader.

Mr Salmond was elected leader, but as he did not have a seat in the Scottish Parliament at the time, it was Ms Sturgeon who headed the party in Holyrood, taking on Labour's Jack McConnell at the weekly First Minister's Questions clashes. These exchanges helped give her a reputation as a formidable politician - a reputation that has stayed with her.

She revealed at an SNP conference that, when she had her first meeting with Scotland Office minister David Mundell as part of the referendum negotiations, his mobile phone rang with a call from his mother checking that he was OK.

After a television debate on independence with Scottish Secretary Alistair Carmichael last year, political commentator Fraser Nelson wrote in the Telegraph that the clash had seen ''a genteel Liberal Democrat being disembowelled by a ferocious and merciless Nationalist'', adding: ''She seemed to quite enjoy it.''

Ms Sturgeon has previously admitted her desire to take on the top job in Scottish politics.

''Anybody, in any walk of life - if they are ambitious - wants to get to the pinnacle of their profession,'' she told the Daily Record.

''So, hypothetically of course, that is something I would like to think that one day I will get the chance to do.''

When she announced she was standing for the role, she declared: ''I am putting myself forward for two simple reasons: I want to serve my party and my country. And I believe I am the best person for the job.''

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