The Republic of Scotland?

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“A new poll commissioned by the BBC has shown that 58 percent of Scots want a referendum on independence in the coming year. Though only 38 percent believe that independence is likely, even the possibility of a looming vote indicates that ten years on from devolution the Scottish appetite for independence is all but satiated.

While decisions about income tax and old-age pensions top the list of Holyrood’s would-be duties, 63 percent are still content to leave defense and foreign policy matters to Westminster. October’s £20 billion government bailout for RBS makes it clear that the purse-strings from London are still taut.” (via FP Passport) Will & Deni McIntyre/Getty Images

An interesting point here will be whether the potential for Scottish independence serves as exemplar for other European countries. With rare exception (Switzerland, Germany) Europe is largely a continent full of unitary governments. While the EU may be an experiment in Federalism “pushed up”, most of the political struggles over taxation, spending, identity-based issues occur at the local level. The UK, Spain, and Belgium are the prime examples of how local issues can lead to fractious political fights at the national level. My European friends have long commented to me that they don’t understand the reasoning or the politics of the U.S. federal system. While I’m not advocating that our model here in the States is by any means perfect, it does allow for more flexibility on taxing & spending issues than a centralized approach. As Europe becomes more populated-arguably through both natural birth rates and the influx of people from Asia and Africa-unitary systems of government in Europe will have to figure out a way to wade through the complexities of political, economic, and social issues that these demographic changes illicit. A quick look at France over the past few years reveals the shortcomings of a unitary system in everything from addressing the realities of the global economic environment to dealing with large influxes of migrants.

About Charlie Gleek

Ph.D. student in Comparative Studies and graduate instructor in the Department of English at Florida Atlantic University. My work takes place around intersections of postcolonial literature, quantitative literary analysis, and digital humanities.

Posted on 01/07/2009, in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink. Comments Off on The Republic of Scotland?.

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