Scottish First Minister Alex Salmond announcing the referendum date
in the Scottish Parliament Today the Scottish Independence Referendum Bill was introduced in the Scottish Parliament. It can be accessed here. It was revealed that the referendum is to take place on Thursday, September 18th 2014:
"We have been on a journey since 1999, since the restoration of our parliament here in the heart of our ancient capital. We've witnessed a growing confidence, an increase in democratic accountability. I'm honoured to announce that, on Thursday the 18th of September 2014, we will hold Scotland's referendum, a historic day when the people will decide Scotland's future." (Alex Salmond, March 21st 2013)
Following the First Minister's statement the referendum date began to be conspicuously advertised:
Edinburgh Castle, March 21st 2013
(Scottish Government photo)
Needless to say, Catalonia, which would very much like to hold an independence referendum of its own, is looking on with interest, as tomorrow's front pages indicate:
Scotland Now Has a DateAra, March 22nd 2013
It is very noticeable that, in his blog commentary on the referendum-date announcement, BBC Scotland's political editor, speculating about the considerations which led the Scottish Government to settle on September 18th 2014, omits all mention of a hugely important one, while wittering on lamely about the anniversary of "the laying of the cornerstone of the US Capitol by George Washington".
As commentators in Catalonia are pointing out, on the other hand, exactly one week before that date is the Diada, Catalonia's national day. It is widely believed that September 11th 2014 is the last date by which either some form of referendum on Catalan independence will take place or, failing that, a unilateral declaration of independence.
It should be remembered that it was during last year's Diada that an independence demonstration was attended by 1.5 million people in Barcelona, the capital of Catalonia, and that this event precipitated a Catalan general election, which produced a pro-independence parliamentary majority. This year's Diada, which is to feature a gigantic human chain, representing the continuity of Catalan national identity down the generations, will prefigure what is to come next year, if not sooner.
A decisive Catalan vote for independence or a UDI occurring as little as a week before the Scottish independence referendum is a possibility which is undeniably opened up by the strategically astute selection of September 18th 2014 as Scotland's "Date with Destiny", as the BBC chap rather predictably refers to referendum day in the title of his piece.
It is worth noting that the latest authoritative Catalan opinion poll found that 54.7% of respondents intended to vote 'Yes' in an independence referendum while only 20.7% declared that they would vote 'No'.