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06/12/2016

Bavaria Party hopes to ride on Scottish independence vote

Elections

Bavaria Party hopes to ride on Scottish independence vote

A beer garden in Bavaria. [Shutterstock]

The German government on Monday (15 September) ridiculed the suggestion that the rich southern region of Bavaria could try to break away if Scotland votes to split from the United Kingdom this week.

One local party, the Bavaria Party, has campaigned for decades for independence and has said that Scotland voting to leave Great Britain would lend weight to its own calls.

“I deem that to be an almost absurd thought,” German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s spokesman, Steffen Seibert, told reporters.

With opinion polls suggesting that Scotland’s referendum remains too close to call, the prospects that the union may split after 307 years could whet appetites for self-rule across Europe – from Catalonia to Flanders.

In Germany, Bavaria and Hesse no longer want to subsidise poorer north and east German federal states and have challenged the country’s fiscal equalisation system in court.

In its heyday in the 1950s, the Bavaria Party gained almost 18% of the Bavarian vote but has not had a seat in the local parliament since 1966. It won 2.1% locally last year, and its demands are not on the ruling conservative Christian Social Union’s (CSU) political agenda.

“We from the Bavaria Party wish our Scottish friends victory in the referendum,” the party said on its website.

“Perhaps more fundamentally, an independent Scotland would be connected to his people with a real boost in terms of democracy and participation,” the party said.

“A ‘yes’ would also have a positive effect on other regions in Europe. Even in Bavaria, it would bring real support and our media would no longer be able to simply ignore this topic or ridicule it,” the website statement said.

In a rare German comment on Britain’s internal affairs, Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier said last week he would rather see Britain remain united.

Berlin seldom comments on Britain’s internal debates, but Merkel and other officials have often expressed concern about the possibility of Britain deciding to leave the European Union in a referendum on membership.

Background

Scotland and the UK signed an agreement on 15 October 2012 opening the way for a referendum on independence in the autumn 2014.

Scotland has been a nation within the United Kingdom since the UK was founded in 1707. The current Scottish Parliament was founded in 1999 as part of the process of devolution within the UK, which created regional assemblies in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, to give the regions greater autonomy. The Scottish Parliament has control over some parts of policy, such as education and health, and can create its own laws on these issues.

The Scottish National Party (SNP), which leads the devolved government, is campaigning for Scottish independence. The SNP claims that Scotland needs a stronger voice in Europe and beyond to properly represent its social, political and economic interests.

Scottish ministers complain that issues important to them are often sidelined by London.

European Commission President José Manuel Barroso has said it is “nearly impossible” for an independent Scotland to join the EU.

>> Read: Barroso: It’s ‘nearly impossible’ for independent Scotland to join EU

Timeline

  • 18 Sept. 2014: Scotland votes on independence
  • March 2016: Proposed date of independence

Further Reading