By Mia Romano
Should Scotland be an independent country? On September 18th, this was the question on the minds of all Scottish citizens over the age of sixteen. The voting age in Scotland is 18, like the United States. However, Alex Samond, Prime Minister and leader of the Scottish National Party (SNP), convinced parliament to allow 16 and 17 year olds to participate in the “greatest democratic experience in Scotland’s history” (just a few days prior to the referendum). As Salmond prepared to leave his post as Scotland’s first minister, he tried to get parliament to allow 16 and 17 year olds to vote in upcoming elections, such as the general election in May. The bad, however greatly outnumbered the good. And Scots weren’t convinced. The day had arrived for deciding the fate of Scotland’s inclusion in the United Kingdom. The date for this historic referendum had been set over a year and a half ago, announced by the Scottish government on March 30, 2013. The vote was against severing ties with the United Kingdom, with a margin of 10.6%.
44.7% of Scottish people said “yes” to the referendum. What if it had gone through?
The repercussions of seceding from the United Kingdom varied, from the good to the bad. The good would have allowed the Queen of England to remain the head of state. However, because her position in Scottish government would become Scotland’s decision, a referendum on Scotland’s monarchical status would have been eventual as well. Also, it would allow Scotland to have its own Independence Day and parliament, up and running by May 2016, according to Salmond. The bad, however greatly outnumbered the good. Scots wouldn’t have been able to keep their British citizenships, unless they qualified under narrow constraints. Also, the the 1 trillion € in debt the United Kingdom is in, would have become Scotland’s debt.
Even though the independence of Scotland has been deterred, the referendum still had its own consequences. Following the vote, Salmond announced he would be resigning in November. He was a very strong supporter of Scottish independence. In the past weeks, he has brought up the idea of Scotland unilaterally declaring their independence. However, this is an unlikely event. It is undemocratic of him to ignore what his people want for the sake of his own dreams for the country. He is using demographic statistics and hypothetical situations to justify his idea. Scotland may not be independent yet, but a referendum down the line can still change that.
Photo by Reuters/Russell Cheyne