Scottish Independence: Proudly Small or Proudly Together?

By Johannes Berchtold

The Scots are going to cast their vote tomorrow. Weathering the future under the shelter of the UK or setting hope on their own strengths as a small country under the European umbrella, for the first time in centuries there is a real choice which road to take. We have always welcomed this debate as refreshing and essential. Regardless which way the vote goes, we hope it will break the deadlock on the European project. It is a debate about Europe torn between the idea of federalism and a Europe of the nations. But it is also essentially a debate about the strengths and weaknesses of small entities.

The Scottish Herald, a Scottish quality daily, has backed the unionist option all the way, stressing that small countries such as Scotland do much better in troubled times:

"It is time to look at the realities facing Scotland. The UK is a successful political union and one of the most successful democracies in the world. It stands more firmly in the face of global economic crosswinds than smaller nations such as Ireland, which was so badly battered by the recent financial crisis. A Scotland that stays in the UK will continue to enjoy the economic and social benefits, such as the certainty of an ongoing currency union backed by political union."

Its sister paper, the Sunday Herald, however, bethinks of the strengths small countries have shown throughout history:

"The proposition is this: We believe independence offers Scotland an historic opportunity to choose the kind of country that might allow its people to prosper. Decisions affecting our lives will be made on our doorstep, by the people who live here. By us. A vote for independence says that a small country is not helpless in a big, troubling world."

And there is history, of course, teaching us that small does not mean irrelevant. "Scots have never been afraid to astonish the world. A small country has made a habit of producing big thinkers. The Sunday Herald says that it is time to think big once again."

Either way the vote goes, it has got the ball rolling. We will watch closely as the debate will spread beyond the Scottish highlands to Spain and elsewhere.

The strengths and weaknesses of small entities will be debated at the 45th St. Gallen Symposium, held from 7-8 May 2015 in Switzerland. Students can qualify for participation and co-shape the debates with some of the world's most influencial leaders.