Scotland's governing Scottish National Party was on course on Saturday to win its fourth straight parliamentary election and very close to securing a majority that would enable it to make a push for another referendum on independence from the United Kingdom.
Sturgeon has said her first priority will be to lead the country out of the coronavirus pandemic but independence has remained front of mind for the 50-year-old politician, "it looks as if it is beyond any doubt that there will be a pro-independence majority in that Scottish Parliament and by any normal standard of democracy that majority should have the commitments it made to the people of Scotland honored, " Sturgeon said.
Many are calling this week's elections the most consequential in Scottish Parliament history. They had also been buoyed by opinion polls showing an increase in support for sovereignty and Ms. Sturgeon's high popularity among voters.
"The SNP has won this election emphatically", she told reporters on Saturday.
However, the Scottish Greens, who have promised to support a referendum, picked up eight seats, meaning overall there will be a comfortable pro-independence majority in the Scottish assembly. A main driver of that result was the fact that by remaining in the UK, Scotland would also remain in the European Union, that has of course changed with Brexit - which the majority of Scots (62%) voted against.
However, by law she needs the United Kingdom government to approve a plebiscite and Prime Minister Boris Johnson has steadfastly refused. He has argued that Scots decided the issue in 2014 when they voted No to sovereignty by 55 per cent.
Even before the results trickled in, Johnson made it clear he would reject calls for a second independence vote, telling the Daily Telegraph: "I think a referendum in the current context is irresponsible and reckless".
Sturgeon has ruled out holding any vote until after the pandemic, with the SNP indicating it would be held by the end of 2023.
The general legal view is that the government in London must approve a referendum on Scotland's secession from the United Kingdom.
He said it would be a "difficult journey" and added: "The broad shoulders of the United Kingdom have supported jobs and businesses the length and breadth of the country, but we know that economic recovery will be a serious shared responsibility".
The British government says that legally Scotland needs permission from the British Parliament to hold a referendum.
"The absurdity and outrageous nature of a Westminster government potentially going to court to overturn Scottish democracy, I can't think of a more colourful argument for Scottish independence than that myself", she said.
Tactical voting was also successful in denying Ms Sturgeon a series of key target constituencies held by Labour and the Liberal Democrats, with Tory voters switching en masse to other parties.
"We are well and truly split over the constitutional question", polling expert Sir John Curtice, a professor of politics at the University of Strathclyde, said in a blog post.
One prominent voice for independence - former First Minister Alex Salmond - is expected to lose his bid to re-enter parliament.
The electoral system - which allocates some seats on a proportional representation basis which helps smaller parties - might see the SNP fail to win an outright majority, something First Minister Nicola Sturgeon, the party leader, acknowledged, saying such an outcome was "on a knife edge".