Early this morning New Y0rk time the results of the Scottish independence referendum were announced. The main features:
1. “No,” meaning stay in the UK, votes made up 55% of the total; “Yes” votes were 45%.
Yeses were much weaker than late polls had predicted. Part of this is the nature of polling. Part is also that sixteen-year-olds have the vote in Scotland and political pollsters have a difficult time getting accurate teen opinions. I think the greatest part, though, is that No voters felt their views would be frowned on and were reluctant to share them.
2. Almost 85% of eligible voters cast a ballot. This is an immense number and indicates that citizens regarded the vote as crucially important.
3. The result averts potentially destabilizing ripple effects throughout the EU. Had Yes carried the day, separatists in, for example, Spain or Italy would have had a concrete example of success to spur on their own efforts.
4. Scotland will become more autonomous. This is partly the result of promises the UK made to tip the voting toward No, partly pragmatic politics to ensure an independence vote won’t recur. Presumably similar, though likely smaller, efforts to assuage unhappy regions will take place elsewhere in the EU.
The response of stock markets has been positive, but small. This is understandable, since the near-term effect of a No vote is preservation of the status quo. Interestingly, though, the recent decline in sterling, which had been attributed to Scottish independence fears, hasn’t reversed itself–implying that other factors are behind the weakness.