June 16, 2024

The Queens County Citizen

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Referendum in Scotland: Quebec moves ahead legally, but not politically

Referendum in Scotland: Quebec moves ahead legally, but not politically

The Scots’ fight to hold a referendum on the country’s independence is reminiscent of the fight in Quebec nearly 30 years ago, which saw sovereignty as a legal advantage, but not a political one.

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Despite the failure of the 2014 referendum – where the “No” vote won 55.3% of the vote – Scottish Prime Minister Nicola Sturgeon, head of the country’s independence party, has not had her last say.

As in 2014, when the British government refused to make an exception to allow Scotland to pass legislation for a referendum, it decided to take the lead.

“To force the hand, the Prime Minister introduced a bill, which the Edinburgh government has not yet studied, on holding a referendum on independence on October 19, 2023,” explains UQAM political science professor and specialist Marc Chevrier. Political System of Great Britain and Canada.

To assert this right, the Scots asked the British Supreme Court for the possibility of holding a consultative referendum without London’s approval and which would not have immediate effect on the United Kingdom.

Ms Sturgeon can count above all on Brexit in 2016, a strong independence wave in her country, as a majority of Scots oppose the United Kingdom’s exit from the European Union.

“The independence movement did not collapse, on the contrary, it consolidated,” said Mr. Chevrier.

There are more separatists than in Quebec

According to the specialist, the case may involve the transmission of the reference given by the Supreme Court on the secession of Quebec in 1998, which then recognized the legitimacy of the referendum as a means of initiating the division of the provincial state.

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“Quebec is ahead legally, but politically it still lost two referendums, which is why the sovereignty movement is weak at the moment. There is a lot of radical demobilization”, says the professor, however subtle.

“Scotland has only had one referendum and in that sense separatists hope to win a second attempt,” he argued.

UK Supreme Court judges will rule on the issue in six to eight weeks. If defeated, the Prime Minister has already hinted at using the 2024 assembly elections as a “real” referendum.

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