On Thursday, Sept. 18, Scottish voters will head to the polls to decide whether or not Scotland should be its own independent country. If the campaign for independence is successful, Scotland would end a more-than-300-year-old union with England–a move that many of UK’s leaders are against. In an address to a group in Edinburgh, Scotland on Wednesday, British Prime Minister David Cameron said, “I would be heartbroken…if this family of nations is torn apart.”
It’s a vote that’s been trending online for weeks–but what does it all mean, and why does it matter outside of the UK?
1. What would it mean for Scotland? Among many things, they’d have to reapply for the European Union and NATO, and they’d no longer be a part of the United Kingdom.
2. What would it mean for Britain? For one thing, its citizens might not be able to call themselves “British” anymore because “Great Britain” includes Scotland. The UK would also lose 32% of its land!
3. It’s been trending globally! The digital campaign around the independence movement has gotten widespread attention with hashtags such as #YesBecause and #Indyref uniting supporters of the referendum. It’s also been getting attention on social networks in Russia and China, with some in Russia bidding an early “good riddance” to Great Britain…
4. Secession is nothing new even to our own shores: five counties in Colorado unsuccessfully voted in 2013 to secede from the Centennial State. The movement gained traction after a number of new laws from gun control to marijuana legalization, passed through the state’s Democratic-controlled legislature. The ‘51st State Initiative,’ would have broken off a corner of the state to become “North Colorado.”
5. And check out another secession story playing out just this year: there appears to be some love lost in the romantic Italian city of Venice where 2.1 million Venetians voted earlier this year to leave Italy and restore their medieval republic. But don’t worry, gondola-riders: it was a non-binding vote.