Nicola Sturgeon said she was "desperate" for Scotland to become independent - but insisted that the decision over whether to hold a second referendum would lie with voters.
It comes as the SNP secured an historic third term in charge at yesterday's elections, with 63 seats - but fell just short of the 65 which would have given them a majority for the second time.
Speaking after she retained her Glasgow Southside seat, she said:
Everybody knows I desperately want to see Scotland become an independent country, but the decision on that will always lie where it firmly belongs, and that is in the hands of the Scottish people.
21-year-old Ross Greer has been elected as the youngest-ever Member of the Scottish Parliament (MSP), representing the Green Party.
Labour is facing a disastrous election night in Scotland, with the party in danger of finishing third behind the SNP and the Conservatives.