Scotland is likely to break from Britain this Thursday as an independence referendum is scheduled on September 18. Voters in Scotland aged 16 and over are eligible to vote in favour or against secession. Nearly 4.3 million people (97%) of the electorate have registered to vote. If Scotland secedes, the United Kingdom could be downsized. The union currently includes England, Wales and Northern Ireland. Besides, the action could have an impact on separatist movements in Spain and Belgium too.
The mood of the country is divided. The public has found themselves divided into two camps – the ‘yes’ and ‘no’ camps. The “Yes” campaign is backed by the Scottish Nationalists, Greens and Socialists. The Scottish National Party leader Salmond is leading the pro-independence campaign and nurtures the ambition of becoming the first prime minister post-secession.
The second camp, Better Together or ‘No’ camp led by Brown’s conservatives and opposition’s Labour Party wants to retain the union. It looks to target 500,000 undecided voters and pull them in the ‘NO’ group.
Some polls conducted show the ‘NO’ camp fares slightly better than the former. It reports 42% of Scots would vote no while 40% would vote yes in favor of independence. But 17% of those surveyed remain undecided.
‘Yes Scotland’ campaigners claim its private canvassing shows “the votes are there for a ‘Yes’ majority”. However, the most recent opinion polls ahead of the 18 September referendum suggests the vote is too close to call.
The call for the independence referendum stems from the negotiations the London and Edinburgh governments had three years ago. The pro-independence Scottish National Party in 2007 became the largest party in the Scottish Parliament and began to lay the groundwork for a referendum. Since 1997, Scotland has had sufficient autonomy with jurisdiction powers over education, environment and other topics.