SNP leader Alex Salmond has been elected Scottish first minister by MSPs at Holyrood.

Mr Salmond defeated a final attempt by Labour’s Jack McConnell to retain power. The SNP leader knocked him out in the second voting round by 49 to 46.

The Conservatives’ Annabel Goldie and Liberal Democrat leader Nicol Stephen were eliminated in the first round after receiving just 16 votes each.

Holyrood formally nominated Mr Salmond for appointment as first minister after the two Green MSPs voted with the SNP.

He will now become the first nationalist leader of the Scottish parliament and the first leader of a minority government since devolution.

Accepting the nomination, Mr Salmond spoke of a “new chapter in Scottish democracy and Scotland’s story.”

Mr Salmond told parliament: “I believe Scotland is ready for change, ready for reform. We’re a small nation but we’ve got a big future.”

His predecessor Mr McConnell congratulated the nationalist leader on his appointment.

Heeding Mr Salmond’s call for a parliament of compromise and concession, Mr McConnell said Labour would not oppose SNP policies for difficulty’s sake.

After the Liberal Democrats rejected SNP appeals for a coalition, Mr Salmond will lead a minority government. The SNP won 47 seats in the Scottish election, but Green support will bring their voting power to 49.