Friday, May 6, 2011

Party committed to independence referendum wins majority in Scottish Parliament

The Scottish National Party, which is committed to holding a referendum on the independence of Scotland from the United Kingdom, won a majority of seats in the Scottish Parliament yesterday. See:

It was unexpected that a majority of seats would have been won by any one political party in the Scottish Parliament becuase its seats are allocated with elements of proportional representation.  In order to win a majority of seats, one party would need to get close to 50% of the popular vote, if not more, in an election. 

As the Scottish National Party is the only party in Scotland capable of winning a significant number of seats that would support holding an independence referendum, it was unlikely that any referendum bill would have been approved in Parliament, thus preventing a referendum from being held.  That significant obstacle is now removed.

Monday, January 31, 2011

Southern Sudan 2011: ballot paper

The ballot used for the recently-held Southern Sudan referendum is the simplest ballot that has ever been used: see

There were only two words that appeared on it: "unity" and "secession" (written in Arabic and English).  There was also a symbol to assist the illiterate: two hands clasped together to symbolize "unity" and a single open hand to sybolize "secession". 

Perhaps the most ingenious idea was that ballots are marked by a thumbprint.  This makes fraudulent ballot-casting more difficult because each mark must be unique, but because there is no fingerprint registry in Sudan, the ballots are also anonymous. 

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Southern Sudan referendum landslide for independence

Souther Sudan has voted in a landslide for independence: 98.8% in favour of independence, 1.2% against.  The only areas where independence received less than 98% support were the polling stations in the North, and even there, independence received a 57% majority.

This is not the first time that an independence referendum resulted in a nearly-unanimous vote for independence.  The 1993 Eritrean referendum attained similar results.   In that case, only Eritrean citizens could vote and the government had the right to exclude fighters on the other side of the civil war from voting. 

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

South Sudan appears to have voted for independence

Reports are suggesting that, even though little over half the ballots have been counted, the Independence option has won the South Sudan referendum:
Recall that a simple majority of votes is needed, with a 60% minimum turnout.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Southern Sudan referendum: voter residency requirements

Voting is taking place in the referendum on Southern Sudanese independence.  The text of the Referendum Act is available at:

Section 25 deals with voter qualifications.  There is no requirement of Sudanese citizenship; rather, there are two tests of "residency":  (a) born to parents both or either of whom belong to an indigenous community of Sudan before September 1, 1956, or has ancestry traceable to one of these communities; or (2) has permanently resided without interruption, or has parents or grandparents permanently residing without interruption in southern Sudan since September 1, 1956.  (September 1, 1956 was the date of Sudanese independence).   This is one of the longest residency requirements I have come across in an independence referendum (55 years). 

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Proposed Scottish ballot question

The Referendum (Scotland) Bill, 2010 proposed the form of ballot paper at this link and reproduced below.  The Scottish government announced in September that it will not be holding a referendum before 2011 elections, so this question will not be put to the voters for the time being.  Still, it is interesting (I will save my comments for later):

The Scottish Parliament has decided to consult people in Scotland on the Scottish Government's proposal to negotiate with the Government of the United Kingdom to achieve independence for Scotland:
Put a cross (X) in the appropriate box

I AGREE that the Scottish Government should negotiate a settlement with
the Government of the United Kingdom so that Scotland becomes an
independent state.


I DO NOT AGREE that the Scottish Government should negotiate a
settlement with the Government of the United Kingdom so that Scotland
becomes an independent state.