Monday’s agreement between Scotland’s Alex Salmond and Britain’s David Cameron for a referendum on Scottish independence in 2014 is a once-in-300 years moment.
The two nations united in the 18th century, but may now be close to going their separate ways again.
One remarkable feature of this vote is that Scots aged just 16 will be allowed to take part. Salmond thinks that is to his advantage, yet polls suggest maybe only a third of Scots are diehard separatists, while a majority fear the economy would be weakened were Scotland to go it alone.
“I would vote for independence in Scotland because we have got a lot of renewable energy.”
“I don’t think 16-year-olds are as responsible as 18-year-olds because they don’t really know much about it,” were the opinions of two young teenagers.
Scotland gets a grant of some 36 billion euros a year from London to pay most of its bills. It may also be liable for a share of Britain’s national debt, which has yet to be calculated.
While the United Kingdom appears to be calmly sailing towards a friendly divorce other regions in Europe with independence aspirations, like Flanders, the Basque country, northern Italy, and Catalonia, are watching the situation closely for the lessons they can draw in their struggles with central authorities.