Nicola Sturgeon is facing claims she is “massively out of touch” with voters after a new poll found four out of 10 Scots want the first minister to resign.
The survey by Panelbase for the Sunday Times comes amid growing controversy over the SNP leader’s handling of gender recognition reforms.
It showed that 42% of respondents thought Ms Sturgeon should stand down now, while 45% said she should remain in the top job until at least the next Holyrood election.
The poll also found that more than three-quarters of those who expressed a view had safety concerns around the Gender Recognition Reform (Scotland) Bill.
Voters were unsure about who should be the next first minister, however, with 69% saying say they did not know.
Finance Secretary Kate Forbes, who is on maternity leave, was the most popular choice to succeed Ms Sturgeon, with 7% of respondents backing her.
The Highlander was followed by Deputy First Minister John Swinney, the Perthshire North MSP, on 6%.
Constitution Secretary Angus Robertson was supported by 5%, and SNP Westminster leader Stephen Flynn, who represents Aberdeen South, was on 3%
Speaking in the latest edition of The Stooshie, DC Thomson’s award-winning politics podcast, Professor James Mitchell claimed the gender recognition reforms were “well-intentioned”, but the government failed to consider “unintended consequences” from passing the law.
The Bill was approved by MSPs in December but has since been blocked by the UK Government.
It would allow trans people to obtain a gender recognition certificate (GRC) without the need for a medical diagnosis.
The Bill would also allow 16 and 17-year-olds to apply for a GRC for the first time, and reduce the amount of time a person has to live in their acquired gender before they can be granted the document.
In the Panelbase poll, 76% of those who expressed a view said they thought the Scottish Government’s plans to change the law on gender recognition would pose a safety risk in women-only spaces, such as changing rooms, hospital wards and prisons.
Just 24% disagreed.
A Scottish Conservative spokesman said: “Public discontent with Nicola Sturgeon is rising because she’s not focused on their priorities and her values are wrong.
“She is massively out of touch with Scottish people with her flawed gender self-ID policy.
“This has led to numerous U-turns, her chronic mishandling of the transgender prisoner row and her inability to admit that a double rapist is a man.
“To make matters worse, she chose to smear those who raised concerns over the safety of women and girls, rather than accept their legitimate fears.”
Ms Sturgeon has said she intends to challenge the UK Government’s use of Section 35 to block the Gender Recognition Reform Bill from becoming law.
The survey, among 1,415 voters in Scotland, was carried out in the past week as the Scottish Prison Service published its review on the management of transgender prisoners in the wake of the Isla Bryson case.
The transgender prisoner, who was convicted last month of raping two women while still a man known as Adam Graham, was initially housed in an all-female prison before being moved to the male estate.
The Panelbase poll also found that 15% of those who voted SNP at the last Westminster election said they wanted Ms Sturgeon to resign, as did 19% of people who backed independence in the referendum in 2014.
Just over three-quarters of SNP voters, and 72% of Yes voters, said they wanted her to remain.
An SNP spokesman said: “Poll after poll consistently shows Nicola Sturgeon is the most popular leader of any political party in Scotland – by a very long way – and this poll is no different.
“Polls also clearly show people across Scotland have no confidence in the Tory Party or their leadership – whether it be the unelected Tory Prime Minister Rishi Sunak or his lackey, Douglas Ross.”