The four candidates include MP Angus Robertson, MP Tommy Sheppard, MEP Alyn Smith and Inverclyde councillor Chris McEleny.
The leader of the SNP’s Westminster group, Angus Robertson, is considered to be the favourite for the role. He has been lauded for his questioning of the PM which is considered by some to be the most effective opposition at Westminster. Robertson is attempting to position himself as the experienced candidate who has an excellent working relationship with Nicola Sturgeon and can appeal to those who voted ‘No’ in 2014.
Tommy Sheppard could potentially pose a challenge to Robertson. He has stressed the importance of mobilising the party’s 120,000 members and insists that the SNP require an ‘organisational upgrade’ in order to achieve independence in the future. This message could resonate with many of the new members who were part of the grassroots ‘Yes’ campaign.
Alyn Smith, an MEP since 2004, is perhaps best known for his rousing speech to the European Parliament after the Brexit vote where he implored his European colleagues not to “let Scotland down’. He believes that the SNP should look to Europe as the future for Scotland and his experience will be vital in creating opportunities for Scotland in Europe.
Finally, Chris McEleny, the leader of an SNP opposition group on Inverclyde Council, is the least well known of the candidates and has acknowledged himself as an outsider. He has strong socialist values and would look to bring the party polices further to the left, such as increasing the rate of tax for higher earners.
In recent years the SNP has seen a quadrupling of its membership, with many joining after dissatisfaction with the independence and EU referendum results, and there is some uncertainty over how these new members will vote.
The candidates will undoubtedly have to appeal to these new members but so far they have all been restrained on the prospect of another independence referendum. Pundits are predicting Robertson as the clear winner but with upsets becoming increasingly common in politics the outcome cannot be taken for granted.