September 18, 2014

MOSECON Luncheon #05 Recap: Consequences of the Scottish Referendum on Independence

Following the summer break, the MOSECON Luncheon returned on September 15 with a discussion on the topic of the Scottish referendum on independence, held on September 18. For this occasion, our panellists were invited to discuss the situation in Scotland, Catalonia, Québec and Kurdistan and provide insights based on their own experiences and their perception of the Scottish event.

Jan Eichhorn, research director for d|part, our partner for this fifth Luncheon, opened the discussion with an overview of the Scottish voting tendencies and an appraisal of the situation three days before the vote. He reiterated that the vote is based essentially on economic terms and that the long-reliable element of the “legacy vote” is now anything but reliable based on the voting tendencies within families. He also added that many of the under-25 tended towards a “No” vote and that national identity plays a negligible role in voting intentions.

He was followed by Prof. Birgit Ammann, political science professor at the Potsdam university for applied sciences, who discussed the particular situation of the Kurds. Aware of the complications of the subject, Prof. Ammann focused on the nation concept of the Kurdish aspirations for independence, underlining some of the territorial and economic issues, and stating that the Kurds are looking at the Scottish referendum with much interest and what the consequences can mean for their cause.

Société St-Jean-Baptiste president Maxime Laporte followed with his presentation on the Québec experience of voting for independence. Mentioning that the referendum of 1980 and 1995 both had very diverse and serious political and legal consequences, he described the Scottish referendum as an inspiration for the Québec movements, whose struggle is defined by the concept of nation state and in a legal-political framework.

Martí Estruch, International Press Officer of the Public Diplomacy Council of Catalonia and former Catalan high-representative to Germany, then took over to speak about the Catalan movement for independence. He stated that the movement is rooted in historical national grievances and by an over-bearing centralisation of government functions by the Spanish government, one that favours a centralist approach rather than a devolution, a more federal approach. He too said all eyes were on Scotland and in a period where many anti-European parties are making strong political gains, he made the very interesting statement that Catalans would be more comfortable with a “United States of Europe” with a central government in Brussels rather than being governed by Madrid.

Last but not least, Prof. John MacInnes from the University of Edinburgh, closed the panel by stating that the Scottish referendum is not about nationalism or culture, saying that the clichés of national pride bear little weight in the reality. In fact, Scotland has until the 1980s enjoyed a better relationship with England and that the current vote could almost be described as ideological, one that fills the social-democratic void left by Thatcherism and neo-liberal policies. He further described the independence processes in Scotland and Québec to be unique, as they have no roots in what he termed “warfare”, an armed struggle for independence.

MOSECON would once again like to thank its partner d|part and its managing director Götz Frommholz for their wonderful support and excellent work in making the MOSECON Luncheon #05 a great success. To view the full event or the trailer, please click here.

To read Jan Eichhorn’s analysis of the Referendum results, please click here.

The next MOSECON Luncheon will be held in November and will discuss the growing international threat of African terrorist groups such as Nigeria’s Boko Haram or Somalia’s Al-Shabaab. If you would like to participate, please contact us here.