Sunday 4 November 2012

Scottish Independence Referendum - who gets to vote?

I am Scottish. I have lived in Greece for the last 23 years - half my life. As a citizen of an EU member state (the UK), I have the right to vote in local elections. However, I do not have the right to vote in Greek parliamentary elections, because I do not hold Greek citizenship.

I have no problem with this. I have been offered Greek citizenship on several occasions, but I have declined. I have declined because I am wary of the document that will tell me I am a Greek citizen. I am not Greek. I am Scottish.

What has this got to do with the Scottish independence referendum?

The Edinburgh Agreement states the following:

"Both governments [Scottish and UK] agree that all those entitled to vote in Scottish Parliamentary and local government elections should be able to vote in the referendum....The Scottish Parliamentary franchise enables British, Irish, qualifying Commonwealth citizens and European Union citizens resident in Scotland to vote."

There was no debate about the franchise. Scotland, my country, is striving to define itself. Maybe that is too abstract. It is the Scots who must strive to define themselves and their country. Scotland is a country that has to work towards a harmonious, multicultural society, where everyone who lives there will have their voice heard. But this single issue - the independence referendum - is something that should be left for the Scots, and the Scots alone, to decide. I have no idea if the franchise or, to put it more simply, who gets to vote, is a done deal. I hope that some day soon the powers that be in Holyrood will lift the veil of silence hanging over this issue and many other issues concerning a future independent Scotland.

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