On Thursday, voters in Scotland went to the polls for a historic referendum and voted down a bid for Scottish independence, with 55.3% voting no and 44.7% voting yes. Of 4.3 million eligible voters, the turnout was also a historical 84.59%.
Of the 32 local authorities, only four had a majority voting yes to independence, including Scotland’s largest city, Glasgow, at 53.29% for yes. Scotland’s capital Edinburgh voted for a resounding no, with only 38.90% voting for yes.
On Friday, markets in London responded well to the result of the referendum. The FTSE 100 index gained 0.7% in morning trading. Shares in the Royal Bank of Scotland gained 3%. The British pound, which dropped to a 14 month low on September 8th after polls showed a yes vote in the lead, also gained 0.7% this morning.
Elsewhere, the world reacts to the referendum and its results. Taiwan’s Premier Jiang Yi-huah of the KMT party said that while any changes to national territories must be put to a referendum, there is no need for a vote on independence since Taiwan is already a sovereign nation under the Republic of China government. The opposition DPP’s official statement on the Scottish referendum commended the British government’s respect for democratic values, and said that Taiwan’s future can only be decided by its 23 million citizens.
The Flanc Radical (基進側翼), an anti-KMT political group fielding local election candidates in November, agrees that an independence referendum is inappropriate for Taiwan, but also says that a referendum asking people to unify with China is also inappropriate. The only referendum, according to its Facebook post, is for a new constitution to replace the current KMT-led Republic of China government.
Taiwan Thinktank deputy director Dr. Lai I-Chung (賴怡忠) said in a Facebook post right before the results, that the Scottish independence movement will further test the European Union’s development. Lai asks, assuming the member states of the EU are naturally opposed to the breakup of its own territories, would the EU as a supra-national entity permit or even promote border changes within itself, or become merely an accomplice to member states’ internal policies?
UK prime minister David Cameron announced immediately after the results that the UK will consider giving Scotland further devolved powers as promised as a concession to the Yes campaign. While the specifics are not clear yet, it is expected that Wales, Northern Ireland and even England will receive devolved powers from Westminster. Meanwhile, Alex Salmond, the first minister of the Scottish Parliament and the leader of the Yes campaign, announced he will step down as the first minister. Deputy first minister Nicola Sturgeon is frontrunner in Salmond’s replacement.
However, it remains to be seen how the UK and the world react to the further concession of powers to the Scottish parliament. UK’s parliament itself faces election in eight months, which could usher in another referendum–this time, to decide whether the UK should “declare independence” from the European Union.
Updated: Dr. Lai I-Chung was previously referred to as director of Taiwan Thinktank; he is the deputy director. Taiwan Thinktank is not directly affiliated with the DPP. In addition, the DPP’s official statement has been added.
(Feature photo of the flag of Scotland, by Xu Heqian)