EDINBURGH, Scotland, Sept. 19 (UPI) -- First Minister of Scotland and Leader of the Scottish National Party Alex Salmond will step down from both positions after Thursday's Scottish independence referendum ended with voters choosing to remain part of the United Kingdom.
"For me as leader my time is nearly over but for Scotland the campaign continues and the dream shall never die," Salmond announced Friday afternoon.
"I accept that verdict of the people and I call on all of Scotland to follow suit in accepting the democratic verdict of the people of Scotland ... A turnout of 86 percent is one of the highest in the democratic world for any election or any referendum in history. This has been a triumph for the democratic process and for participation in politics."
Salmond went on to praise efforts by 16 and 17-year-old voters, who were granted the right to participate in the election for the first time in U.K. history.
"I suspect no-one will ever again dispute their right and ability to participate fully and responsibly in democratic elections."
In addition to giving voice to Scotland's youth, Salmond praised the long-term effect the nation's brush with independence will have on the future of the entire United Kingdom.
"Over the last few weeks we have seen a scare and a fear of enormous proportions -- not a scaremongering directed at the Scottish people but the scare and the fear at the heart of the Westminster establishment as they realise the mass movement of people that was going forward in Scotland. Today of all days as we bring Scotland together, let us not dwell on the distance we have fallen short, let us dwell on the distance we have travelled and have confidence the movement is abroad in Scotland that will take this nation forward and we shall go forward as one nation."