Scotland: Devolution and Self Rule

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The Scottish independence referendum is scheduled for 18th September 2014, and will decide whether or not Scotland is to become an independent country.  The planned date for independence, if successful is March 2016.


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The current Scottish Parliament has 129 members, with another 59 Westminster MPs sitting in the UK Parliament in England.

How much change will Independence bring? After all, even since union with England in 1707, Scotland has maintained its own legal, educational and religious systems.

In the two Devolution referendums in Scotland during the last century, the results changed dramatically in the 18 years that separated the voting dates, even though the overall interest in the result was only a small change.

In 1979 the number of registered voters that chose to vote was 2,384,439 (63.0% of the electorate).
In 1997 this changed very slightly to 2,391,268 (60.2% of the electorate).


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1979 Devolution Referendum in Scotland:

Question: Do you want the provisions of the Scotland Act 1978 to be put into effect?
40% of the electorate had to say Yes, for this to be enacted.

  • 51.6% of the voters (1,230,937) chose YES. This was 32.5% of the electorate.
  • 48.4%  of the voters (1,153,502) said NO. This was 48.4% of the electorate.
  • Borders had the highest voter interest with 66.4% of the electorate voting.
  • Western Isles had the least voter interest with 49.9% of the electorate voting.
  • Western Isles had the highest percentage of YES votes, with 55.8% of the VOTERS saying YES.
  • Shetland had the highest percentage of NO votes, with 73%  of the VOTERS saying NO.

1997 Parliament Referendum in Scotland:

Question: I agree that there should be a Scottish Parliament.
The 40% rule was NOT in force this time.

  • 74.3% of the voters (1,775,045) chose YES. This was 44.7% of the electorate.
  • 25.7% of the voters (614,400) chose NO. This was  15.5% of the electorate.
  • East Dunbartonshire had the highest voter interest with 72.3% of the electorate voting.
  • Shetland Islands had the least voter interest with 51.3% of the electorate voting.
  • West Dunbartonshire had the highest percentage of YES votes, with 84.7% of the VOTERS saying YES.
  • Orkney Islands had the highest percentage of NO votes, with 42.7%  of the VOTERS saying NO.

As a comparison of voter interest, the turnout in 1997  for the May General election was 71.4%.

Dates of the referendums in Wales and Scotland:

Welsh Devolution Referendum, 1 March 1979
Welsh Assembly Referendum, 18 September 1997
Scottish Devolution Referendum, 1 March 1979
Scottish Parliament Referendum, 11 September 1997

Source: Results of Devolution Referendums (1979 & 1997), Research Paper No 97/113, 10 November 1997

www.scotland.gov.uk


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