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Scot Free?
Will Scottish Independence Create a Bandwagon Effect?

Scotland’s referendum to break away from the UK might increase demands for independence across Europe.

Published on: September 17, 2014
Giovanna Maria Dora Dore is a political economist, formerly at the World Bank and currently a fellow in the Asian Studies Program at the School of Advanced International Studies of the Johns Hopkins University.
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  • Pete

    The EU is unwieldy as it is. Imagine if it added these pipsqueak countries to the mix.

  • Curious Mayhem

    A crucial distinction is also needed but often lost. Catalonia, Vizcayuna, northern Italy, and Flanders are all relatively wealthy regions that are net contributors to the fisc of their respective countries. They could survive on their own.

    The others mentioned are dependents and net “tax eaters,” including Scotland, Sardinia, Wallonia, and so on — more like Quebec and Puerto Rico. Sad to tell, the EU’s absurd bailouts of Spain, Portugal, Italy, and Greece have reduced those countries to dependent “tax eaters.” Their wealthier regions want to escape being part of these dependencies.

    For Scotland et al., the situation is the opposite. Motivated by half-baked leftist populism, these places have some vague notion that they will be able to survive and flourish as independent countries, instead of their likely fate: ending up as more additions to the list of EU bailed-out dependencies, with a partial or total loss of sovereignty and monetary and fiscal independence.

    • Andrew Allison

      The chances of an independent Scotland, et al., joining the EU approximate those of a snowflake in hell.

  • Angel Martin

    Brittany also now has a significant separatist movement


  • wigwag

    What is Switzerland’s secret for success?

    • Fat_Man

      local autonomy, small central government, capitalism.

    • Corlyss

      Smallness, inaccessibility, banks, and zero ambition for influence over international politics.

  • Mass regression from the Westphalian system and its attenging concept of sovereignty to a medieval labyrinth of semi-sovereigns, all pumped up by a decadent elite whose ideology is aptly named postmodernism. Mean the while, Russia and China stay integrated and armed to their teeth.

  • cubanbob

    I’m not sure what most of these independent movements are seeking to accomplish when if they have their way not only would they be poorer but by virtue of their small size not only have to acquiesce to their former countrymen and in addition have even less national autonomy as they become one of the smaller and less important members of the EU.

  • S.C. Schwarz

    It doesn’t matter if Scotland votes yes or no. The only result that could have discouraged other separatists would have been a resounding defeat for independence in Scotland. That’s not going to happen: At best the unionists will win by a narrow margin and that will be close enough to encourage the separatists in Scotland, and in other counties, to keep trying.

    I’m afraid that genie is out of the bottle.

  • InklingBooks

    The Scottish vote today matters less than its longer term results. The separation of the Czechs and Slovaks has gone well for both, but has drawn little attention since it was amiable and uncontroversial. The Scottish vote is likely to be close and less amiable both inside Scotland and between Scotland and the UK. That means it’ll get more attention and those long-term results will shape other separationist movements positively or negatively. If Scotland works, they’re grow stronger. If it fails, they’ll grow weaker.

    Keep in mind that a century ago many of those who consider themselves thoughtful and intelligent believed that European nationalism would soon fade away, to be replaced by a gradually expanding League of Nations that would eliminate nations. That’s the sort of thing that was meant by the ‘war to end all wars.’ G. K. Chesterton disagreed, arguing the European nationalism was alive and well. Subsequent events have proved him right.

    –Michael W. Perry, editor of Chesterton on War and Peace

  • Corlyss

    I am worried about what’s happening to Scots’ judgment. I started noticing something amiss when they made a spectacle of themselves in the release of the Lockerbie bomber in 2009. A more ridiculous example of indifference to precedence setting could hardly be found. I suspect Scottish immigration to Canada may account for their strange desire since the 60s to “buy the world a home and furnish it with love.” The Scots seem to have lost all sense of self and appear to be identifying themselves as “Not-Brits.” If the Brits are a nation of shopkeepers, the Scots will make of themselves a nation of care-givers who see nothing ominous about everyone being on welfare. If the Brits are adults, the Scots will be care-free and childlike if not childish. As evidence of the latter, they allow 16-17 yr olds to vote in the divorce poll. If there’s anything a teenager wants more than the latest gadget, it’s independence from parental supervision. Perhaps most troubling, the US has a lot of Scottish descendants. One can hope only that whatever social virus has infected the Scots will not affect our citizens of Scottish origins.

    • Tom

      I don’t think so. Me, personally, I’d be inclined to say that we got a very large portion of the Scots who wanted to make something of themselves.

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