New SNP leader Humza Yousaf has been urged to include former leadership contenders Kate Forbes and Ash Regan in his cabinet.
Ms Forbes narrowly missed out on the leadership, claiming 47.9% of the vote in the second round, while Ms Regan was eliminated in the first round with 11% of the vote.
Mr Yousaf, who is set to be elected first minister on Tuesday, will set out his government team this week, but has been reluctant to commit to bringing his two rivals into the fray.
Both have significant government experience, with Ms Forbes serving as Finance Secretary for three years and public finance minister before that, while Ms Regan was formerly community safety minister – a post she quit in protest over gender reform legislation.
“I think it would be advantageous and very sensible for Humza to do,” he said.
“Both Ash and Kate in his cabinet would be a sensible position for him to take, not least because he does need to unite this party.”
Dave Thompson, a former SNP MSP who left the party and is now a member of Alba, said the close nature of the result should serve as a “wake-up call”.
“Half their members and more than half the country don’t agree with them, therefore they’ve really got to start thinking about holding out the hand of friendship, to take Kate and Ash into the cabinet.”
Describing Mr Yousaf as a “friend of mine”, Mr Thompson added: “He needs to pull in other people.”
It is unclear if either candidate would serve in government when asked, with both being coy when asked on Tuesday.
Ms Regan told broadcasters she had not been asked to serve, while the Finance Secretary said: “Humza has won, so it’s for Humza to appoint his cabinet and I, like any other MSP, look forward to supporting him in any way possible.”