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Scotland referendum in focus

September 22nd, 2014

Commentators both from left and right agree that the Scottish referendum was a victory for democracy. They also believe that despite the failure of the Pro-Independence movement, Scotland will enjoy more autonomy in the future. Right-wing columnists suggest that the referendum sets an example for other national minorities, including ethnic Hungarians in the neighbouring countries.

The Scottish referendum was a celebration of democracy, Éva Lelkes writes in Népszava. The left-wing columnist points out that the Scots set an example for all democracies, both with the 85 per cent turnout and the civilised behaviour of winners and losers alike. Although the referendum failed, Scotland will enjoy wider autonomy, Lelkes adds. She goes on to note that the result is a relief for European leaders who feared that Scottish secession would trigger a chain reaction in Europe.

“Scottish people listened to their minds rather than their hearts”, Veronika R. Hahn comments in Népszabadság. Hahn recalls that pro-independence activists and parties set mostly symbolic aims and claimed that secession follows from national pride. Voters, however, were more concerned with the potentially unfavourable economic impact of independence than with national pride, Hahn believes. Nonetheless, the UK is likely to become a looser federation after the vote, she writes. The failure of the referendum will also have an impact on the 2017 UK vote on EU membership, since Scottish voters will strengthen the pro-EU camp.

In Magyar Nemzet, Zoltán Kottász accuses the pro-union camp of scare mongering. The conservative columnist maintains that fears of economic and political isolation that would threaten an independent Scotland were groundless, but nonetheless helped the pro-union parties to mobilize voters. The pro-union campaign at the same time increased the number of pro-independence protest votes to a record high, Kottász remarks. Despite what Kottász sees as an unfair pro-union campaign, he praises the government’s willingness to give the green light to the referendum in the name of democracy.

On Jobbegyenes Gábor Balogh holds that despite its failure, the referendum sent a clear message to all multi-ethnic states in Europe. In a direct reference to the Romanian constitution, the radical blogger calls on multi-ethnic countries not to insist on the “19th century concept” of a “unitary and indivisible Nation State”. Balogh suggests that other minority regions, including the Szekler territories in Romania, should also have the right to decide if they want to remain part of another nation.

The Scottish referendum can inspire other nations fighting for their independence,” Lehel Kristály asserts in Magyar Hírlap. The conservative pundit regards the Scottish referendum as a precedent after which no government in Europe can deny national groups the right of self-determination. If Scotland could vote on independence, neither Paris, nor Bucharest nor Bratislava can deny such options, “since every minority deserves the right to determine its own fate,” Kristály believes.

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