Europe: Scotland faced the choice of fate: how great is freedom?

Europe: Scotland faced the choice of fate: how great is freedom?

Scottish politics is currently facing the question of whether Scotland should remain part of Britain or become an independent state. Even though this question has been asked in different ways since the beginning of the Union with England in the 18th century, its importance has increased considerably in recent years. In fact, the Scottish general election on 6 May was preceded by a decade of intense discussion before independence. This election will also take the controversy over a possible new independence referendum to a new level.

In the 2011 Scottish Parliamentary elections, the Scottish National Party (SNP) Get a majority – That is, the first and the absolute majority so far. Scotland’s largest pro-independence party SNP promised people to vote on the issue. As a result, the Scottish and UK governments met in 2012 bilateral agreementTo enable such a vote. The independence referendum was held in 2014 and, as is well known, the Scottish people continued to vote in the state live.

But this did not end the discussion. Whatever had happened, the independence negotiations continued. although Rubbish politics In 2016 the UK was fundamentally changed by the EU referendum: Scotland Did not vote Brexit. All Europeans should know this today, as this was the only European policy message from the Scottish Government in the meantime. The themes of Europe and independence were unbroken. And since 2020, Scottish independence has increasingly gained support with the public Changing features Among the respective groups of voters. The strongest driving force behind this was Brexit.

A decade after 2011, Scottish voters now face another election in which independence is central. The SNP and the Scottish Greens propose to hold a new independence referendum from 2021 to 2026 in the next parliamentary term. The Scottish Conservatives, Labor Party and Liberal Democrats are opposed to such a referendum. According to poll Last few months The SNP should clearly win the election. However, the deciding factor is how strong the victory is and what impact the election will have on the discussion of a new referendum.

The themes of Europe and independence were unbroken.

Following the British decision to leave the European Union, the Scottish Government, which had been permanently formed by the SNP since 2007, brought into play the possibility of a new independence referendum. The head of the national government, Nicola Sturgeon, said about him First speech Following the Brexit referendum, a Scottish referendum is “on the table”. Your statement ended promiseTo forward this vote by the end of 2023. However, the scheme is currently controversial at two different levels:

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The first level of these is the Government of Britain. Nicola Sturgeon has twice tried to convince the unworthy British Prime Ministers to approve a new referendum – Theresa May in March 2017 and Boris Johnson in December 2019. In both cases there was no negotiation between the two governments. End of 2019 Requested Sturgeon has a dialogue on the subject in Johnson, which he wrote in early 2020 refused. In practice, this remains a deadlock.

The second level is the Scottish Parliament. The SNP and the Scottish Greens currently make up the “majority for independence”. Although these parties have not formed an alliance, they both support independence and referendum. At that time, the law on the first referendum of 2014 was not passed on the basis of majority or party in Parliament, but Unanimously. In contrast, today – without the support of the Scottish Conservatives, the Labor Party and the Liberal Democrats – there is no such bipartisan unity.

Recently, Alex Salmond, former head of the national government and leader of the SNP party, added a new dimension to the political atmosphere before the election: Long argument Given his behavior in office and his friendship with Sturgeon completely shattered, he took the leadership of the new Alba party (Alba meaning “Gaelic in Gaelic”). In particular, his party is proposing to hold immediate independence talks with the UK government, and then at some point hold a referendum, but not as a first step.

Nicola Sturgeon has already tried twice, persuading unsuccessful British Prime Ministers to approve a new referendum.

There is no possibility of success with such an approach, but with it the Alba Party is targeting those for whom progress on independence is not happening fast enough. Even though Salmond’s party failed to win seats in this election, there is undoubtedly a risk that the independence camp will break. How this division develops and how it is affected can be seen.

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Given the SNP’s pivotal position in Scottish politics, its election result in May will decimate the prospects of a future independence referendum. The declared purpose of the SNP is to achieve an absolute parliamentary majority. Elections agree that it will be the strongest party, but it is still unclear whether it can also win an absolute majority. This uncertainty is due to the fact that Scottish general election The individual is subject to proportional representation. Although the SNP is expected to win a majority of electoral districts, the distribution of seats for regional lists – which may secure or withhold most SNPs – has proved difficult to predict.

Given the current situation, four scenarios seem possible: first, the SNP can gain an absolute majority and govern alone. Second, it can govern alone with a relative majority – and garner support from the Greens on independence and other issues. Third, it can gain a relative majority and form a majority coalition with the Greens. And fourth, it can gain an absolute majority on its own and still form an alliance with the Greens to strengthen this majority.

Although the SNP and the Greens have differing views in some areas, they can, for example, look back at the long tradition of informal cooperation – on budgetary issues. Almost certainly, however, the SNP will not work with the Alba party, even if it gets enough votes to enter parliament.

The UK government can decide whether to reach a bilateral referendum agreement with its Scottish counterparts.

How Parliament and the government sit after the election may answer the question of whether the conflict can be resolved on a referendum at the British and Scottish levels. The UK government can decide whether to reach a bilateral referendum agreement with its Scottish counterparts. Other parties in the Scottish Parliament would then have to choose whether to support such efforts. The deciding factor will be how much the MPs changed their positions based on the election result rather than sticking to their previous beliefs.

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This uncertainty about the effect of the Scottish election on an independence referendum is due to the fact that the constitutional order of the United Kingdom is overturned: superficial, the British Parliament – according to the English doctrine of parliamentary sovereignty – is the final decision-making power in Scotland. . In practice, however, the Scottish Parliament is politically legitimate to represent its citizens, which corresponds to the Scottish tradition of popular sovereignty. So mainly Various constitutional ideologies Responsible for ensuring that discrepancies are not easily resolved.

This is best due to the fact that till date There is no consensus on the reasonThe 2014 independence referendum is exactly why it happened. According to the first argument, in view of the 2011 Scottish elections, a referendum was allowed by the British government at its own discretion to take into account the wishes of the Scottish people. By other logic, the Scottish and British governments only enforced the people’s vote for a referendum, which by definition would be repeated as per the voter mandate.

The Scottish election in May will show what people think of a new referendum. The political response to this vote will ultimately depend on which of the competing views on democracy and sovereignty in Scotland and the United Kingdom.

Translated from English by Harald Ackoff.

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