Could Scottish, Catalan independence votes reshape Europe?


The separatist flag of Catalonia – with its yellow and red stripes, blue triangle and white star – was a rare sight on the streets of Barcelona a decade ago. Now, it is almost ubiquitous.

Two thousand km to the north in Scotland, the blue-and-white saltire has always been popular. But that flag too increasingly symbolizes something new, that after more than 400 years within the United Kingdom Scotland may be on the verge of demanding a divorce.

For all the focus on the risk of the euro zone falling apart, some suspect this decade may be better remembered as the time when two of Europe’s most permanent states began to break apart.

Pro-independence parties in Scotland and Catalonia are preparing for referendums next year that they hope could see their regions secede for good – which some analysts suspect might encourage others in Europe to follow suit.

There are considerable differences between the two regions. Scotland has always been referred to as a separate “country” within the United Kingdom, while Catalonia’s claims to self rule are rooted in the history of the Middle Ages.

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