On September 18th, the citizens of Scotland voted on whether or not they want the country to be its own state, independent from the United Kingdom.

Had this referendum been successful and Scotland had become independent, who would have been in power in the new Scottish state? I suppose that there would have been an election for a new government pretty soon, but in order to have an election, a country needs a constitution which defines what positions there are in the government, what responsibilities they have, who is eligible to vote or get voted for each position and what voting system is used.

So, had the referendum been successful, according to what principles would the new government have been built?

1 Answer 1


It's technically an open question. The referendum is on one and only one question: will Scotland be an independent country? Were the referendum to succeed, all resultant questions about politics, a constitution, currency, etc. would have to be internally debated among the Scots.

But Scotland already has a government and a political system. Over the past few decades, the United Kingdom has been undergoing a process known as devolution, where localities like London and individual kingdoms like Scotland and Wales have been granted greater ability to dictate their affairs. The Scotland Act of 1998 created a Scottish Parliament and a Scottish executive (later rebranded the "Scottish government"), who exercise a good deal of control over Scotland and negotiated for the referendum.

Under the Edinburgh Agreement, in the case of Scottish independence, the UK will "provide the Scottish Government and Scottish Parliament with the legal powers they need to prepare for independence." The current government of Scotland has released a document that lays out their vision for what an independent Scotland would look like. As they envision it, Scotland would be a constitutional parliamentary monarchy, with the Queen of England as head of state and a new constitutional convention. Internationally, they'd be a member of the European Union and the United Nations.

Not every Scottish party agrees with every detail of their proposal (especially the queen thing), but two things ALL the major parties have agreed upon is that "[g]overnments will always be formed by parties that win elections in Scotland" and "[a]n independent Parliament elected entirely by people in Scotland will replace the current Westminster system." So no matter who is elected in the aftermath of independence, parliamentary democracy is almost certain.

  • "Internationally, they'd be a member of the European Union and the United Nations" this is not automatic and it is one of the big issues surrounding the whole referendum.
    – fedorqui
    Commented Sep 18, 2014 at 13:21
  • Oh, I certainly know that. I was just laying out what the current Scottish government's vision for the future Scottish state would be. But EU issue aside, I'll admit that I'd be shocked if the UN didn't admit Scotland. Commented Sep 18, 2014 at 13:40
  • I agree. Most probably, becoming a member of both organisations would be almost automatic.
    – fedorqui
    Commented Sep 18, 2014 at 13:41
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    There is no such person as "the Queen of England". Currently, England, Wales, Scotland, and Northern Ireland are not separate kingdoms: they are one united kingdom, of which Elizabeth II is Queen. She's Queen of Canada, Queen of Australia, Queen of Jamaica, but not Queen of England. Presumably, had Scottish independence happened, and the kingdoms been disunited, she'd have become Queen of Scotland, or perhaps taken up the old title of the Scottish Monarchy, Queen of Scots.
    – TRiG
    Commented Feb 25, 2017 at 19:05
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    @TRiG Wales is not a principality. Although it is commonly referred to as one. There was a principality in North and West Wales between the 13th and 16th centuries but this ceased to exist when Wales was legally incorporated into England in the 16th Century. Wales is not a kingdom either it is a country which forms part of the United Kingdom but a principality it is not. Commented Jun 11, 2017 at 13:21

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