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Scotland and Separatism in Europe

Jonathan Foreman rattles off [1] a number of implausible and far-fetched scenarios for what will happen after a ‘yes’ vote. Along with some other utterly ridiculous things, he imagines that separatist dominoes would start falling all over Europe:

A “Yes” vote for secession would also set in motion a whole series of political crises across the continent and further afield.

As I’ve said before, it’s not obvious that this is necessarily such a terrible thing if it happened, but how likely is it? There are a few reasons to doubt this scenario. If Scotland votes to break away, it will have done so in no small part because the political leadership in London was oblivious to the possibility that the referendum might turn out that way. Future bids for independence will not be underestimated in the same way by other central governments, and independence movements probably won’t be permitted to hold binding votes in the first place. Viewed this way, a ‘yes’ vote might inspire separatist parties, but it would also alarm central governments and encourage them not to agree to a vote on independence. The ‘Yes’ campaign has done as well as it has in part because it was able to take a complacent, clueless government in London by surprise, and that isn’t going to happen again no matter how the vote turns out. Another reason to doubt that there will be a “whole series of political crises” breaking out in the wake of a ‘yes’ vote is that each country’s conditions and political traditions are different.

Not all separatist parties are going to be able to make a persuasive argument that their regions would succeed as new states, and not all governments are going to be quite so ineffective in making appeals for continued national unity. More to the point, some states specifically outlaw the possibility of regional independence, so there are major barriers in other countries that didn’t exist in this case. Political elites in other countries may also learn from London’s mistakes, and they could offer greater autonomy to their discontented regions as Cameron now realizes he should have done all along. On top of all this, Scotland might find itself running into stiff opposition from some current EU members when it applies to join, which will presumably also have the effect of discouraging voters in other countries from following their example. Of course, that is the point of threatening to block or delay Scotland’s membership, as Spain has so bluntly done over the last few months.

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5 Comments To "Scotland and Separatism in Europe"

#1 Comment By we’re still here On September 18, 2014 @ 3:33 pm

It’s grimly amusing when you think about it.

The elites force mind-blowing, fundamental change on their societies, importing millions of immigrants, redefining the core institution of marriage, inauguring mass surveillance of their citizens, all the while patiently lecturing us about our need to be open to change.

Then they go bonkers over little Scotland maybe becoming independent. What incredible hypocrisy. The people dare to speak! Indeed …

#2 Comment By c matt On September 18, 2014 @ 3:50 pm

Scotland might find itself running into stiff opposition from some current EU members when it applies to join

For separatists, are you sure that’s a bug and not a feature?

#3 Comment By Russell Seitz On September 18, 2014 @ 4:20 pm

Though at least one echt Scottish Nationalist dreams of inviting the King of Norway to reign in Holyrood, it might be more prudent to get things over with by appointing James Delingpole’s pal Ernst August of Hanover as the newly new nation’s chief exec-

Better the Sassnach you know than one with a house in Brussells.

#4 Comment By cecelia On September 18, 2014 @ 6:24 pm

the big issue here is exactly the incompetence of the government – and not just re: this but across a whole range of issues in the UK. It is precisely this tone deaf incompetence which makes the best case for Scots independence – get as far away from these messing everything up leaders as possible.

#5 Comment By rcocean On September 18, 2014 @ 9:21 pm

It was quite amusing to see the Global elite all close ranks and declare that an Independent Scotland would cause Global Chaos and perhaps the destruction of the entire UK financial system.

Even more amusing was seeing the “Up for People” Labour party arguing against local control and that it was better for Scots to remain under an English Tory Government, then rule themselves under a Scottish version of Labour.