First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has met voters at a Glasgow polling station on the morning of what her party has dubbed one of Scotland’s most important elections.
The SNP leader visited Annette Street Primary School in Govanhill – part of her Glasgow Southside constituency – along with Roza Salih, who is the lead SNP candidate on the Glasgow regional list.
Ms Salih will become the first former refugee to be elected to Holyrood if she wins a seat, with this year’s poll being the first in which people with refugee status are entitled to vote.
At the polling station, Ms Sturgeon and Ms Salih met three Syrian Scots who have lived in Scotland for eight years – 63-year-old Adnan Abdulbaki, and Iqbal Abdulbaki and Abdulruhman Abdulbaki, both 20 – as they prepared to cast their vote.
Ms Sturgeon said it is “great we’ve got everybody who lives here able to vote”, saying it is an “exciting” and “special thing to do”, to which they agreed.
She expressed hope that Ms Salih will be an SNP MSP once the votes are counted this weekend.
Despite alluding to the fact she is scared of dogs, Ms Sturgeon also had her photo taken with a pet called Elsa outside the school.
An interpreter for the Syrian Scots requested a selfie with the First Minister and said his mother is unwell with Covid-19, so asked if she could record a video message for her.
Ms Sturgeon did so, and in the message she said: “It’s Nicola Sturgeon here, First Minister of Scotland, with your son in Glasgow.
“I understand you’re not well with Covid so I wanted to send you my best wishes for a speedy recovery. Get well soon.”
A man wearing an SNP rosette outside the polling station, alongside a young boy waving an SNP flag, told Ms Sturgeon they will be spending the day “campaigning for Auntie Nicola”.
The boy suggested he could take a photo with the party photographer in it, to which Ms Sturgeon said: “If it makes you feel any better it’s usually my job he’s after.”
Sabir Zazai, chief executive of the Scottish Refugee Council, said: “The right to vote is a basic human right in a democracy, and is a key part of being a full and valued member of a community.
“This election is a truly historic moment for refugee communities which have experienced long periods of disenfranchisement. No matter the outcome of the election, we ought to pause to celebrate this milestone moment and mark the progress it represents.
“It is also fantastic that the leaders of Scotland’s larger parties have all pledged to stand up for refugee rights. Strong and consistent political leadership plays a crucially important part in creating a more welcoming environment for refugees to rebuild their lives and make contributions to their new homes.”