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In the morning of September 19th, the final results of the Scottish independence referendum were 55%-45% in favor of staying as one nation with the United Kingdom. Many proponents of Scottish independence may be disappointed by the results, but this movement has marked significant historical successes for a democratic movement of national self-determination within an empire–the unprecedented turnout of the 85% of votes, the support for young people’s political participation from both sides (16 years and beyond can vote), and the more transparent, and public debates on the social and political issues within the UK through the referendum. These are all the legacy that this movement has left that should not be negated simply because of the results.
While the geopolitical boundary of the UK temporarily remains intact, the legacy of the British Empire that had once occupied almost half of the globe is surely dissolving rapidly. The Scottish independence referendum has indeed pushed Northern Ireland and Wales the talks around constitutional reforms for more local government autonomy. Furthermore, the objection of Obama’s administration and the China’s official against Scottish independence showed how these two of the most powerful nations in the world currently, are worried about how the movement may insight and encourage the independence movements across the globe. The Scottish independence movement is the beginning of a kind of democratic, peaceful self-determination movement that is beyond the archaic ethno-nationalism.
Wen Liu is a doctoral candidate in social psychology at the Graduate Center, City University of New York. She is also a freelance writer on sexuality and politics in the US and Asia.