Ken Macintosh will step down as the Scottish Parliament’s Presiding Officer after 123 MSPs are sworn in at Holyrood today.
The politician, who was first elected as a Scottish Labour MSP in the original 1999 intake, told BBC Good Morning Scotland he has “mixed feelings” about stepping down after 22 years in parliament.
He said he will “greatly miss” Holyrood but added there is a “real sense of excitement” as 43 new MSPs are sworn in for the first time.
They include a record number of women, among them parliament’s first two women of colour and the first permanent wheelchair user.
The 59-year outgoing presiding officer, who will oversee the swearing in of Scotland’s 123 MSPs, said the role he is stepping down from is a “crucial” one, as the “public face of the parliament”.
He said: “The character of each session of parliament is really dictated by the electoral arithmetic, the shape of the parties and the individuals who have been returned.
“But the presiding officer also has a huge influence on that.”
Thursday morning’s swearing-in ceremony will see all 123 MSPs take either an oath or affirmation that both include pledging allegiance to the Queen.
Once that process has been completed, MSPs will decide who should be the parliament’s new presiding officer – the equivalent of the Speaker in the House of Commons.
No party has been keen to give up one of its members but it is understood that Alison Johnstone, the Scottish Greens MSP for Lothian, has been persuaded to stand following cross-party talks.
In an exclusive interview as part of our series on the 1999 intake of the Scottish Parliament, Mr Macintosh claimed Holyrood is “dominated by partisan politics in a way that sometimes is a little too unhealthy”.
But he said it is a “work in progress” and added he has “every confidence that successive generations will resolve these matters and will improve things”.
Mr Macintosh told the BBC the new MSPs would be “looking forward to the difference they can make for Scotland over the next five years”.