It is always thrilling to witness a key historical moment, and today it is one. The results of the Scottish referendum on independence mark, as many political commentators have noted, a decisive turning point in the History of the United Kingdom, which will have to revise urgently the conditions of the union (including, most likely, the establishment of an English local Parliament and Government –how intriguing!).

I am personally fascinated by the political savoir faire with which this delicate process has unfolded during the last fifteen years on both sides of the border. A friend who’s now a Glasgow resident emailed me a couple of days ago to explain that watching the debates was absolutely exciting. The very existence of these debates and the chance the Scots have had to manifest their opinion attest to the high degree of maturity and stability that democracy has in the UK.

My own reading of the 55/45 result, which I am offering here both as a Cultural Studies specialist very much interest in Scotland and as a Catalan, is that this is neither a vote in favour of the union, nor against independence. It is a vote that expresses uncertainty about the future. Perhaps this is my own interested personal reading but what I am trying to argue here is best summarised by the opinion of a Scottish gentleman I heard yesterday on TV: “I cannot vote ‘yes’ to a matter politicians disagree so much on”. He defined himself as an independentist.

Both sides stand to gain in the end: Cameron will be a hero for keeping the union alive, Salmond another hero for doing his best to grant Scots the right to choose. In my view, though, they have both lost: Cameron had to use a fear campaign to increase the ‘no’ vote, Salmond could not convincingly explain what the future of an independent Scotland would be like. Neither was persuasive enough about the benefits of staying on or of leaving. The anxiety about the future, rather than patriotism of either kind, has ultimately carried the day.

How do I know? Because even Cameron himself has realised that the union can only survive with less, rather than more, centralism. If the Scottish vote really meant a wish for a stronger union, there would be no need to grant the Scottish Government and Parliament greater powers as Cameron promised to do during his campaign. There might be even good grounds to withdraw some of the powers already devolved in order to strengthen the union. I heard talk today of a future ‘federal’ United Kingdom. Logically, the Welsh and the Northern Irish, who were holding their breath waiting for the results to materialise, are now also demanding more powers. Soon the English will also wake up from their lethargy and assume once and for all that England is one nation in the union, not the union itself.

The message behind all this is, in my view, very clear: people want matters closest home to be decided locally, and think of unions as fulfilling a role only for large scale issues and institutions (Scotland will not go to war against the Islamic State, but NATO will). Also, this is the second message, even though the small Scandinavian countries seem to be the most desirable model in many senses (Norway is the referent for Scotland), the republican federal model of the United States and Germany seem to work best for economic development. Most likely, a federal British monarchy (if they persist on supporting the Windsors, God knows why) is the solution best suited to that particular corner of west Europe.

In this particular corner of south Europe, the media are focusing today not on the result (which might very well reflect a similar division here, too) but on the fact that the Scots have had the chance to vote. Today the Catalan Parliament is passing a law to secure Catalan citizens’ right to be consulted in major decisions, a law than will be immediately annulled by the Spanish Government, for fear that the projected 9 November referendum might result in a pro-independence vote. I wonder why Rajoy has never considered, like Cameron, the possibility that the ‘no’ might win. His own permanent ‘no’ is fast undermining unionism and increasing the independentist ‘yes’. And, something else he cannot see, leaving Catalan unionists completely desauthorised.

I am personally worried sick about what might happen in an independent Catalonia as I believe we would all be impoverished and, anyway, we don’t have enough information to make a reasoned decision (what’s the rush, I wonder?). I do, however, firmly support the right of citizens to decide, not only on this crucial matter but on many other equally crucial matters like what kind of education, justice, welfare services, etc. we want. I actually would like the Spanish Parliament to pass that kind of law and, thus, prevent certain Ministers from implementing laws nobody wants.

The matter of Scotland might not be over. If I recall correctly, in Quebec they have voted on independence several times. I’m sure, however, that Salmond will take a reasonable break before he or someone else in the SNP tries again (perhaps one generation?). The funniest thing about the whole process is that an independent Scotland with her own monarch would see our dear Cayetana de Alba, the last of the Stuarts, crowned Queen Cayetana I. Alba, of course, is the Gaelic name for Scotland. Here we don’t even know whether we’d be a Republic, or, this is a nice joke, still part of King Felipe VI dominions –a joke since he’s a Borbón as much as the independentists arch-villain Felipe V, his direct ancestor.

Congratulations, once more, United Kingdom, on facing a major crisis with an admirable democratic spirit. I hope citizens in Scotland continue the debate and work for what really matters: a transparent political system, accountable to all voters, and as close to them as possible.

[By the way: I’m celebrating today the fourth anniversary of this blog. Thanks for reading me!!]

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