Rally of “No” campaign, Glasgow, Scotland, September 18, 2014
On September 18, the people of Scotland voted on whether or not to leave the United Kingdom (UK) and become an independent nation. Voters turned out in record numbers for the Scottish independence referendum. The final tally showed that the No votes had won, 55 percent to 45 percent. The UK remains united.
Since 1707 Scotland has been part of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland (or just Britain—hence the adjective British), which also includes England, Wales, and Northern Ireland. Recent dissatisfaction among the Scottish people over British government policies led to the desire for a stronger voice in self-government. In 1999 the UK granted Scotland its own parliament, though decisions other than those affecting just Scotland are still made by the British Parliament.
In conducting the referendum, Scotland lowered its voting age from 18 to 16 years of age, thus allowing more young people to have a say in deciding the country’s future. About 80 percent of people in this age group registered to vote.
Uncertainty surrounded the vote, as many people throughout the UK worried what would happen if Scotland decided to leave. British prime minister David Cameron, who supported the No side, preferred to see the nation stay together. He promised during the campaign to give the Scottish parliament additional powers. The referendum may have settled the question of Scottish independence for years to come, but some Yes voters vow to keep the independence movement alive.
Advocates for “national” independence elsewhere paid close attention to the Scottish vote. Pro-independence movements are surging in Spain’s Catalonia region as well as in Belgium’s Flanders. These groups will likely point to the UK example and demand a vote. Moreover, there are potential separatist movements within large nations such as Russia and China, not to mention the Kashmiris in India, the Kurds in Turkey, Iraq, and Iran. We can only hope that Scotland’s peaceful referendum will serve as an example.
Image credit: © Gary Calton/eyevine/Redux
- In Decisive Vote, Scotland Rejects Independence, Sticks with the U.K.
This article covers the outcome of the September 18 vote for Scottish independence.
(Source: Washington Post, September 19, 2014)
- The Future of UK and Scotland: Navigate the Debate
Check out this guide from the Economic and Social Research Council, a UK think tank, to the issues being debated around Scotland’s independence referendum; includes infographics.
(Source: Economic and Social Research Council; accessed October 6, 2011)
- Scotland’s Vote on Independence: What You Need to Know
This article presents the basic issues and background; includes an infographic comparing Scotland and the UK.
(Source: CNN.com, September 18, 2014)
- What Scotland Means for Catalonia. And Flanders and Transylvania …
For the broader implications of the Scotland vote for other independence movements, check out this interview with George Friedman, founder of Stratfor (a think tank).
(Source: BusinessWeek, September 17, 2014)
- Scottish Independence Referendum, 2014
This article provides solid background on the issue and includes vote totals.
(Source: Wikipedia; accessed October 6, 2014)
- World Holds Its Breath, Mostly Hoping Scots Vote “No”
This article explores what folks other than the Scots themselves were saying about the referendum.
(Source: VOA News, September 17, 2014)
- Scotland Vote Raises Questions of International Law
This article analyzes how the vote for Scottish independence relates to international law and concepts of secession and nationalism.
(Source: VOA News, September 18, 2014)