As Scots eye a diminished UK, separatists across Europe wonder if they can make Italy, Spain and Belgium forgotten nations.
Paul AmesJanuary 12, 2012 17:35
A view of a derelict
cottage with free Scotland graffiti written on the gable end wall on
January 10, 2012 in Bannockburn, Scotland. The Scottish First Minister
has indicated that the Scottish National Party plans to hold its
referendum on Scottish independence in 2014 on the 700th anniversary of
the Battle of Bannockburn. Prime Minister David Cameron and his
coalition government, wants the vote on the referendum to be held sooner
rather than later. (Jeff J Mitchell/AFP/Getty Images)
BRUSSELS, Belgium — A hefty volume called “Vanished Kingdoms,” has been one of this season’s literary successes in Europe.
The book, by British historian Norman Davies, tells the story of states
that no longer exist, but thatwere once major players in the history of
Europe; places like Aragon, Prussia, Savoy or Burgundy. It’s easy to
see why Davies’ supposition — that the glory of states and empires — is
essentially transient is resonating among citizens of today’s Europe.
Wheels were put in motion this week to give Scottish citizens the
chance to vote on independence from the United Kingdom of Great Britain
and Northern Ireland by the fall of 2014.
Separatists around Europe will be looking at the Scottish example and
wondering if they can add the likes of Italy, Spain and Belgium to the
list of Europe’s forgotten nations.
Scotland’s elected First Minister Alex Salmond plans a referendum to
reverse the 1707 Act of Union with England. He calls the upcoming vote,
“the most important decision for Scotland in 300 years.”
His Scottish Nationalist Party is the biggest in the Scottish
Parliament, winning 45 percent in elections last year on a campaign
ticket that included a pledge to hold the independence vote.
Across the North Sea, the New Flemish Alliance wants independence for
the prosperous, Dutch-speaking north of Belgium; it emerged as the
country’s biggest party in 2010.
The Northern League, which once campaigned to divide Italy, is the
third largest party in Rome’s Chamber of Deputies, while nationalist
parties dominate parliaments in the Catalonia and Basque regions of
The regional president of Madeira Island threatened last year to break
away from Portugal and tensions have grown between the Danish government
and independence-minded authorities in the north Atlantic Faroe
So is Europe poised to get a bunch of new nations? Don’t hold your breath.
Despite the nationalists’ electoral success, a poll published Thursday
showed only a third of Scots want to end British rule, with 53 percent
opposed. However secessionist sentiment is on the rise, hence British
Prime Minister David Cameron’s bid to pre-empt the nationalists by
seeking to call the referendum much earlier than their preferred 2014
In Belgium too, polls suggest much support for Flemish separatists is
linked more to dissatisfaction with mainstream politicians than a
burning desire to break from French-speaking Wallonia. Much may depend
on the performance of the recently appointed Prime Minister Elio di Rupo
– the first French-speaker to hold the post since the 1970s.
Separatism has actually been on the wane recently in Spain and Italy
and voters focus on the countries’ economic woes. However if Scotland
successfully takes the high road away from Britain, many in Catalonia,
the Basque Country and northern Italy’s Padania may well want to follow.
Tags: scotland, secede, split, uk, 2014, rats, jump, from, sinking, ship
Location: Scotland, United Kingdom (UK/GB) (load item map)
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