By: Dominic Sanfilippo – Staff Writer
On Sept. 18, the citizens of Scotland voted to remain part of the United Kingdom by a 10 percent margin. In a record breaking turnout for U.K. elections, 84.51 percent of Scottish voters cast their ballots, voting either yes or no on the question, “Should Scotland be an independent country?” according to The Associated Press.
The referendum’s results show 55 percent voted to stay a part of the U.K. while 45 percent voted for Scottish independence.
Counting started almost immediately after the polls closed at 10 p.m. British Standard Time, and carriers of the voting slips made their way by foot, car and, in the more mountainous regions, helicopter to the 32 voting precincts to tally the ballots, according to election officials.
Election officials said they worked with volunteers throughout the night to calculate the referendum’s result.
The following morning, at 6:08 a.m., BBC reporter Huw Edwards announced the no camp’s victory; though there were still polling stations counting votes, calculations showed it was statically impossible for the yes votes to win a majority.
In the minutes and hours following the announcement, reactions poured in from all over the world.
British Prime Minister David Cameron, speaking from his office at 10 Downing St., said “the debate has been settled for a generation, or as [Scottish First Minister] Alex Salmond has said, ‘Perhaps for a lifetime’…We have heard the will of the Scottish people.”
In a move that surprised the general public, on the afternoon following the vote’s results, Salmond announced his intention to step down from the country’s top position in November, when the Scottish National Party is set to convene for preliminary election nominations.
Many political analysts predicted that Salmond would continue to lead the effort to, in his words, “hold Westminster’s feet to the fire” for more Scottish powers despite the no vote.
“It has been the privilege of a lifetime to serve Scotland as first minister,” Salmond said. “But, as I said often during the referendum campaign, this is not about me or the SNP. It is much more important than that.”
United States President Barack Obama congratulated Scotland for its “full and energetic exercise of democracy,” according to USA Today.
On Sept. 19, U.K. Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg said the vote had the potential to set off unrest and unforeseen events throughout a “dangerous and uncertain world.”
Social commentators pointed to the uncertainty around the fate of Scotland’s relationship to the British pound sterling as a chief factor driving the no camp’s victory. Soon after the result was declared, the market value of the pound jumped up against the dollar and the euro in one of its strongest showings in the past several years.
Joshua Tovey, University of Dayton junior political science and philosophy major, said he has been following the referendum from Dayton and agrees with Scotland’s decision.
“In the end, this vote was not about past animosities but about a strong economic future for the people of Scotland,” Tovey said. “The no vote was the only economically responsible option.”
British parliamentarians said future legislative efforts will be aimed at giving more power to the Scottish people and alter voting regulations for the U.K.’s four constituent countries.
Though independence supporters and separatists from other nations expressed disappointment with Scotland’s decision to remain British, many say they expect the energy and attention surrounding the Scottish vote to affect other countries’ political discourse and possibly propel other national referendums in the near future.
Nancy Miller, UD associate professor in the political science department who traveled to the University of Oxford to give a lecture on the day of the referendum, said the vote could have far reaching implications.
“We live in a world where national borders are less restrictive,” Miller said. “Major events [like the referendum] have global ramifications.”
Callum Morris, UD ’14 graduate and British citizen, said the ramifications are not only global, but personal as well.
“This is also important to people on a very personal level,” Morris said. “My parents are both English, but we have Scottish blood on my dad’s side. Separation would not have been solely political, but would have affected many families.”