Salmond, who led the independence Scottish National Party (SNP) to back-to-back electoral victories in the Scottish Parliament in 2007 and 2011, said the party would aim to build a ‘supermajority’ for UK independence.
The Alba party is expected to field candidates in all parts of Scotland, on the so-called regional lists, and is sure to sow unease among current SNP leaders.
The move comes a year after Salmond’s acquittal of sexual assault charges.
The veteran politician, who resigned as prime minister and SNP leader in 2014 after losing in that year’s Scottish independence referendum, found himself fighting for his reputation – and his freedom – after being accused of sexually assaulting a number of women. during his tenure as Prime Minister.
He resigned from the SNP in August 2018 and had a spectacular falling out with his party protégé and current Scottish Prime Minister Nicola Sturgeon.
His government has admitted to acting illegally in investigating allegations of abuse against Salmond, who was found innocent of all charges by a jury in Edinburgh court in March 2020.
Earlier this week, Sturgeon herself was allowed to break the Scottish Ministerial Code due to her own involvement in the Salmond case.
“I think it was almost always inevitable or was one of the most likely outcomes,” political analyst Gerry Hassan told Al Jazeera, noting that Salmond still enjoys the support of many pro-independence voters.
“His reputation has been sacked, he cannot be controlled or [be held] accountable to anyone, and therefore that makes him a free agent or a dangerous out of control missile.
Scottish independence supporters were polarized over Salmond’s announcement, with many SNP loyalists, on social media, urging their constituents to keep faith in the party, which has a huge lead in opinion polls on his pro-British rivals.
But popular independence blogger James Kelly told Al Jazeera he was “encouraged” by the 66-year-old’s desire to return to Scottish politics. Salmond announced that as leader of the Alba party he wanted to “build a supermajority for independence in the Scottish Parliament” and Kelly argued that his inclusion was a positive step.
“Mr. Salmond is a relentlessly positive activist, so I don’t think he will waste time attacking the SNP or Nicola Sturgeon,” he said. “I just hope the SNP leadership will be sensible enough to reciprocate.”
Although Sturgeon does not rejoice in Salmond’s active participation in frontline politics – their relationship would be irretrievably broken and she is likely to be concerned that her party will divide SNP votes and encourage political defections – the former SNP leader takes also a bet.
If his new movement behaves badly in parliamentary elections, his long political career could come to a humiliating end.
“He is extremely unpopular with Scottish public opinion,” Hassan said. “But, of course, he might … get elected.”
Follow Alasdair Soussi on Twitter: @AlasdairSoussi