September 18, 2014


So, what will happen after tomorrow’s vote in Scotland? Success for “Yes” will likely give strength to independence movements elsewhere. In particular, it may encourage some of the more moderate regionalist and nationalist parties seeking forms of devolution and autonomy within the state to “up” their demands to full secession. A “yes” result in Scotland may strengthen those who oppose the constitutional stipulation that France, Italy, and Spain are indivisible, and trigger a “demonstration effect”, even if many of the pro-independence movements currently lack for the foreseeable future the political momentum or popular legitimacy necessary to realize their ambitions.

A “no” vote is very likely to strengthen the arguments of those who oppose independence and may similarly show the regions that they are better together within their states, especially in these trying economic times. However, it wouldn’t likely herald the end of efforts to achieve constitutional changes, either in Scotland or elsewhere. The pro-UK parties have all promised to grant the Scottish Parliament further constitutional powers if “no” wins. If they play their cards right, independence-seeking parties in France, Italy, and Spain may use this fact to pressure their national governments to do the same, strengthening demands to devolve even more powers.

Is it really imaginable today that if part of the United States genuinely wanted to secede, it would be stopped with the kind of violence we saw in the American Civil War?

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