This September, the people of Scotland will be able to exercise their votes to determine whether or not Scotland should become an independent country
Thursday 18th September 2014.
This date was chosen as to avoid any potential events that may disrupt the voting e.g. bad weather. This year Scotland is already set to hold the Ryder Cup (golf tournament) and the Commonwealth Games. It is also the 700th Anniversary of the famous battle of Bannockburn, where Scotland was then fighting for independence.
Unlike in many countries where only those over 18 are able to vote, Scotland is allowing all people over the age of 16 to vote.
The chart below (Source: BBC) is interesting as it shows how 800,000 Scots will be unable to vote, despite being born in Scotland. Whilst, 400,000 non-Scottish people will be eligible to vote
The question: “Should Scotland be an independent country?”
The Electoral Commission rejected previous drafts of the question, as it was believed that the way the question was worded was biased in favour of a yes vote. One example was “do you agree that Scotland should be an independent country?” because it was believed this would make people vote ‘yes’.
The campaign FOR Scottish independence is called ‘Yes Scotland’, whilst the campaign AGAINST Scottish independence is called ‘Better Together’.
The political parties have also been choosing their sides. The SNP and the Scottish Greens back independence, whilst Labour, the Conservatives, and the Liberal Democrats all oppose independence.
The 1707 Act of Union led to Scotland losing its independence resulting in its unification with England. Almost ever since this date Scotland has been fighting for independence.
However, in 2011 it was announced (after the Nationalists gained power for the first time) that there would be a referendum on whether Scotland should be independent or not.
When the Scottish Parliament was created in 1999, the Scottish Nationalist Party knew they had an opportunity to push for Scottish independence. Although the potential for a party pushing for independence it was believed no party would do so unless the nationalists gained power. However, one commentator said that devolution would “kill nationalism stone dead”. Yet, in 2011 the nationalists did get power and they began their campaign for independence from the off.
What do the people of Scotland want?
It is difficult to be certain. Although, in one poll last year it was found only 23% of the 1229 people surveyed wanted Scotland to be independent.
The outcome of a yes or no vote
Yes vote = Scotland would be officially independent in March 2016. Before this date many complicated constitutional issues must be resolved. After this date, issues of the EU and NATO must be dealt with.
No vote = the SNP will struggle to get into power again and Scotland will remain part of the UK. One situation the no-voters want to avoid is the one that has occurred in Quebec (Canada) where a series of independent referendums has occurred over the past few years. As a result, some people have called Quebec’s referendums ‘neverendums’.
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