With a week until the people of Scotland vote on independence from Great Britain, separatist movements around the world are watching closely.
“From Catalonia to Kurdistan to Quebec, nationalist and separatist movements in Europe and beyond are watching the Scottish independence referendum closely – sometimes more so than Britons themselves, who seem to have only just woken up to the possibility that Scotland might vote next Thursday to bring to an end a 307-year union,” writes the New York Times.
“A curious collection of left and right, rich and poor, marginal and mainstream, these movements are united in the hope that their shared ambition for more self-determination will get a lift from an independent Scotland,” it added.
The Telegraph reports that a record-breaking 4.3 million have registered to vote in Scottish referendum, the highest number in Scottish electoral history, and recent polls show the pro-independence movement gaining steam as the vote nears.
As of yesterday, the No campaign had a slim lead over the Yes campaign, 47.6 percent to 42.4 percent. But when the 10 percent who said they were still undecided were removed from the equation, the survey suggests that the Yes campaign would win, 53-47, according to The Telegraph.
The referendum is gathering attention around the globe.
“Busloads of Catalans, South Tiroleans, Corsicans, Bretons, Frisians and ‘Finland-Swedes’ are headed for Scotland to witness the vote,” according to the Times. “Even Bavaria (which calls itself ‘Europe’s seventh-largest economy’) is sending a delegation.”
“It would create a very important precedent,” said Naif Bezwan of Mardin Artuklu University in the Kurdish part of Turkey. Across the Iraqi border (or “the Kurdish-Kurdish border,” as Mr. Bezwan puts it), where a confluence of war, oil disputes and political turmoil has renewed the debate about secession, Kurds pine for the opportunity of a Scottish-style breakup, the publication added.
In recent years, there have been few amicable splits.
In the summer of 1992, the dissolution of Czechoslovakia officially began when the Slovak parliament adopted the Declaration of independence of the Slovak nation. A short time later, politicians representing Czech and Slovakian sides approved dividing Czechoslovakia and by late November they had agreed to the details which resulted in the peaceful creation of the Czech Republic and Slovakia.
Two years later, residents of Quebec came extremely close to passing a referendum on whether the province should proclaim national sovereignty and become an independent state, with 49.42 percent voting “Yes” and 50.58 percent voting “No.”
Scotland was a sovereign state from the mid-9th century until 1707, when the Scottish Parliament passed the Union with England Act.
Opponents of Scottish independence claim it could trigger “the Balkanization of Europe.”
Others, however, say national self-determination should come before keeping failed nation states in place.
Mark Demesmaeker, a Flemish member of the European Parliament, said there’s a reason independence movements have gained popularity in recent years, particularly in Europe.
Demesmaeker believes Britain has failed to give the Scots and Welsh proper representation in Parliament and Spain has failed to deliver democracy to Catalans and Basques eager to have their own independence vote. Other nations, like France and Italy, have been mired in political and economic stagnation. Meanwhile, Belgium is struggling to form a government, even though it held elections in May, he told the Times.
“If Scotland votes ‘yes,’ it will be an eye-opener for many people on the street,” Demesmaeker said. “Most people think it’s our fate to be part of Belgium. But Flanders could be a prosperous nation. It’s a democratic evolution that is going on in different states of the European Union. Eventually we want Flanders to take its place in the EU.”
(HT: An Sionnach Fionn)