Do the Scots really want a divorce from Great Britain?

Scotland will vote on possible independence this September.

On September 18th this year the people of Scotland will hold a referendum. Every resident of the country over the age of 16 will be eligible to vote – making it the first election ever in the United Kingdom in which children have been enfranchised. Voters will be asked one very specific question: “Should Scotland be an independent country?”

This is not the first time the question has been raised. A referendum on Scottish devolution was held in 1979. But it led to no change in spite of a small majority in favour. The rules then said that the pro-devolution vote must be more than 40% of the total electorate, and it wasn’t.

This time round there is no such turnout requirement. So if half the voters plus one say “Yes”, Scotland moves on to become an independent nation. Alex Salmond, the leader of the Scottish National Party, and the likely first prime minister of the hypothetical new country, has said that he wants ‘Independence Day’ to be in March 2016. That will be 309 years after the union between England and Scotland was first formed.

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