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For me, the vibrancy of a new democracy in Scotland is electric and it's carried by the momentum from the referendum.

People who had never had any interest in politics before are really engaged." The SNP has tripled its membership to more than 80,000 following the referendum, making it the third largest political party in the UK.

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I hope it changes the way politics are done in this country.

I want new members to encourage others in their community and workplace to join." If that sounds like a new evangelism, she's unrepentant.

"If your pal or neighbour is in the SNP you're more likely to listen to them than if you just turn on the telly and see me or Alex.

The growth of membership is building a politically engaged community base that hasn't been there in my lifetime." Sturgeon has pledged to be the most accessible First Minister since the Scottish Parliament was founded in 1999, and plans a monthly Facebook question and answer session with members of the public to bring them closer to the political process.

That is also unprecedented, and marks another of the differences between Sturgeon and Salmond, her political partner of 10 years.

"I'm a different personality from Alex, though I've made a conscious decision that I'm not going into the job thinking of what makes me different from him.Everybody knows my relationship with him is fantastic and I'd never criticise what he has done.I'm not going to rip all that up just to demonstrate that I'm not him.The woman soon to become the most powerful in Scotland opens the door of her Glasgow home with a wan smile.It's a sunny November Saturday morning, the neighbours are out and about, and she's still on a high after receiving a standing ovation from 2000 supporters at last night's sell-out rally in Dundee. "Peter's got the coffee on." As Nicola Sturgeon pads in her stocking soles through to the lounge of the modern detached home she shares with Peter Murrell, her husband of four years and the SNP's chief executive, she looks remarkably relaxed and happy, though I detect a hint of fatigue beneath her flawless makeup.After the gruelling independence referendum campaign, the very idea of embarking on a series of political rallies across the country would be enough to floor the strongest man. Elected unopposed yesterday as leader of her party at age 44, she is due to become the first female First Minister of Scotland on Wednesday following Alex Salmond's resignation on Tuesday.

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