Scottish Referendum – Lessons for Transnistria

The referendum in Scotland held on 18 September 2014 was no doubt democracy at its best. Thus, many wound be quick to point out that this is a precedent that could/should be used in other separatist regions: Transnistria, South Ossetia  and Abkhazia, Nagorno-Karabakh, Northern Cyprus, Basque Country, Catalonia, Flanders, Kurdistan to name only a few.  Normally, that should be the case. However, each of these entities represents a sui generis case, which can hardly be compared to that of Scotland.  Furthermore, a Scotland like referendum is simply unimaginable in many of these regions. In fact, Transnistria already had two independence referenda (1991, 2006). The 2006 referendum in Transnistria had two questions on the ballot.New_Bitmap_Image - Copy (2)You be the judge of how impartial the questions are and how skewed the result is. Just compare the results with those in Scotland and you would see why such a democratic experiment would not be feasible in a place like Transnistria.  You cannot possible have a fair vote in which over 97% take one side of the debate. It simply proves that there was no debate.  A deliberation like that of Salmond vs Darling on Scottish independence is just unrealistic in the current climate of Moldova-Transnistria relations.Yet, more importantly, in the two cases media freedom and political culture in general are as different as mist and mast.

When you look at Scotland, a true battle of ideas, viewpoints, and visions took front stage. It is understandable for Scots to feel discontent over Westminster polices that they have little or no control over. Yet, a full blown independence is hardly the answer. Indeed, most voters favored a continuous devolution that would empower Scotland to have more say in managing its own affairs.  A similar proposal has been repeatedly offered to Transnistria. If only voters in Transnistria were masters of their own fate and not victims of a never ending state driven acrimony towards their fellow countrymen from the rest of Moldova.

I would love to see the day when a truly open debate can take place between leaders from both sides in a context devoid of any external interference. A debate based on numbers and jobs, common values and traditions and, most importantly, on a joint pursuit of happiness and wellbeing. The Scots were wise not to fall prey to nationalist fervor and egoistic drive for separation, instead adhering to the voice of wisdom behind the Better Together campaign. This is not to say that threats to deny Scotland a future currency union and withhold its share of assets in the Bank of England did not expose a more Machiavellian side of the “No” campaign, nevertheless, Scots had the luxury to make a free and well informed choice. Something that Transnistrians can only dream about, for the time being at least.

P.S.: A week prior to the vote, polls showed dead heat between the two referendum camps. Despite the edge enjoyed by the “No” campaign throughout the year, it all came to a tossup. This is when genuine statesmanship comes into play.  And who would have expected for beleaguered Gordon Brown to step up and make the speech of his lifetime. It is moments like this that give me hope about politics and politicians.   

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