THE results have been finalised in the Holyrood elections and Nicola Sturgeon has been returned as first minister.

Whatever your politics, it has to be recognised that the SNP’s feat in winning a fourth term is remarkable. And it wasn’t a narrow win – the party secured the largest number of votes won by any party in Holyrood history.

Across the world, people are watching. Scotland’s election results made front-page news in two of France’s leading newspapers: Le Figaro and Le Monde. Both of which saw the outcome as "plucky Scotland defying Boris Johnson and Westminster".

Meanwhile, across the European Union, commentators have been speculating about how soon an independent Scotland could rejoin, with most agreeing that – post-Brexit – the welcome mat would be rolled out in a way it wasn’t during our first independence referendum.

Back then, Brussels wanted to be helpful to David Cameron. These days, the Conservative government doesn’t have many friends in Brussels.

The first minister has said that there will be no referendum legislation until the pandemic is over. But that seems unlikely to halt fevered speculation about the timing and result.

Interestingly, Michael Gove has said that the UK Government will not mount any legal challenge to a referendum bill passed at Holyrood. And that, surely, is wise.

If Holyrood votes for a referendum, it does so on behalf of the people who have returned MSPs with a mandate. That’s how parliamentary democracy works. And all of us will then have our say subsequently in a yes/no ballot.

I’m looking forward to watching the debates at Holyrood in the upcoming session. Although Westminster is showier with its elaborate customs, wigs, and silk stockings, Holyrood’s debates are frequently better attended and more informed.

Long hours can pass on the floor of the House of Commons, with multiple MPs standing up to make virtually identical speeches before frontbenchers rise to summarise, offering florid self-congratulatory praise for the quality of the debate and the profundity of the arguments made.

In Holyrood, the speaking styles may fail sometimes to reach an oratorical peak. But speakers often have a wealth of pre-politics experience which they bring to bear.

This upcoming parliament will look much more like Scotland, with more female MSPs than ever before. Not before time, we have the first minority-ethnic woman.

We have all three of Scotland’s national languages spoken by newly-elected MSPs (and a big push to have Scots given equal status with Gaelic and English).

The newly-elected Angus Robertson, formerly SNP group leader at Westminster, will burnish his EU credentials by taking his oath in his native German.

There will be MSPs ranged in age from their early 20s to 70s. Holyrood now has its first permanent wheelchair user. And there are nine openly LGBT parliamentarians.

And just, as I write that last paragraph, I’ve had Le Monde on the phone. They want to interview me about "Scotland’s parliament – diverse and heading towards independence".

As I say, the world is watching.