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Article / 19 September 2014 at 9:16 GMT

The Scots vote, by the numbers

Head of Editorial Content / Saxo Bank
  • Edinburgh overwhelmingly votes Yes
  • Glasgow, Dundee wanted independence
  • Inverclyde decided by a tenth of a percentage point

By Michael McKenna

The vote is in, as is Scotland: 55.3% of Scots have chosen to remain part of the United Kingdom in an historic contest that saw over 86% of the country's voters hit the polls yesterday.

In the context of separation referendums, the No faction's 10.6% majority is a prodigious victory, as such questions rarely reach national ballots unless demand is overwhelming (read: potentially destabilising). 

The Scottish capital of Edinburgh voted overwhelmingly to remain part of the UK. Photo: iStock

Though the No side ultimately triumphed, the 1.6 million votes cast for separation (which included a 53% majority in Glasgow) represent a significant mandate to which British prime minister David Cameron has already responded in a statement from 10 Downing Street:

"We hear you," said Cameron, before adding that there is now an opportunity to "change it for the better."

These sorts of votes have an uncanny ability to depict a nation's (or province's, or disputed region's) internal fault lines to the world, and the Scottish ballot was no exception. Here, then, are the numbers. Here's how things stood last night in Scotland:

  • In the capital city of Edinburgh, just under 90% of voters turned out, with 194,622 voting No and 123,927 voting Yes (a 61/39 split in favour of Union).
  • In the metropolis of Glasgow, the opposite held sway with 195,779 voting Yes and 169,347 voting No (a 53/47 split for independence, with 75% of voters turning out).
  • In Scotland's third city of Aberdeen, 84,094 chose No with 59,380 ticking the Yes box — a 59/41 split with an 81.7% turnout.
  • In the separatist stronghold of Dundee, 53,620 voters ticked Yes with 39,880 voting No — a 57/43 split with a 78.8% turnout. This was the Yes side's strongest showing across all voting regions.
  • The closest contest came in the western region of Inverclyde, where 49.9% of voters ticked Yes and 50.1% said No. This contest was characterised by an 87.4% turnout.
  • Turnout levels for the landmark independence vote dwarfed those of the last UK general election. In 2010, 65% of UK voters (and 63.8% of Scots, which came ahead of Northern Ireland but behind England and Wales) headed to the ballots. Last night, as stated, turnout exceeded 86%.

As's Martin O'Rourke noted last week, situations in which nations put their potential dissolution to the vote are rare. In 2006, and following a series of brutal conflicts between regions of the former Yugoslavia, Montenegro voted to leave Serbia with a 55% majority. In 1980 and 1995, the question of Quebec's leaving Canada was voted down by majorities of 59.6% and 50.5%, respectively.

Excluding the legislated breakup of Slovakia and the Czech Republic, most other such situations resolve themselves more violently, with Ukraine, Kosovo, Bosnia, and the United States of America all having seen secessionist movements turn bloody.

In light of this trend, both sides must recognise the Scots vote as a kind of success.

-- Edited by Martin O'Rourke

Michael McKenna is an editor on
Martin O'Rourke Martin O'Rourke
There must be genuine amazement in many parts of the world that such a process could have been embarked upon. Self-determination may seem a quaint notion in a globalised world, but it probably still represents the fairest and most cohesive way of allowing societies to organise, if they so choose. The supranational organisations like the EU might disagree, but its inability to solve inherent contradictions only prove the point. And a penny for the thoughts of someone in Tibet perhaps or Chechnaya for whom such an opportunity seems light years away.


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