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Main focus of Friday, September 19, 2014

Scotland says No to independence

Almost 85 percent of those eligible to vote took part in the referendum. (© picture-alliance/dpa)

The people of Scotland have rejected independence from the United Kingdom more clearly than anticipated. According to the official results of Thursday's referendum, a good 55 percent of voters ticked "No". The UK is nonetheless facing a new beginning, commentators write, praising London for its openness in dealing with the Scottish separatists.

The Guardian - United Kingdom

Time for a fresh start

Even if the Scottish population has voted against independence, simply consolidating the status quo would be the wrong approach, the left-liberal daily The Guardian stresses: "Something that thousands of Scots wanted to be wonderful or merely just to witness has disappeared. The anticlimax will be cruel and crushing. For others, the majority, there will be thankfulness above all but uneasiness too. Thursday's vote exposed a Scotland divided down the middle and against itself. ... Healing that hurt will not be easy or quick. It's time to put away all flags. The immediate political question now suddenly moves to London. … The deal [of a new devolution settlement] needs to be on the table by the end of next month. It will not be easy to reconcile all the interests - Scots, English, Welsh, Northern Irish and local. But it is an epochal opportunity. The plan, like the banks, is too big to fail." (19/09/2014)

Corriere della Sera - Italy

On course for a federalised kingdom

Despite their defeat in the referendum the Scottish separatists have emerged victorious, the liberal-conservative daily Corriere della Sera comments: "From today nothing is as it was before in the UK. The referendum experience will have a lasting impact. It will weigh on the future of the Conservatives and Labour alike. Because both Prime Minister David Cameron and opposition leader Ed Miliband made a grave mistake: they underestimated the separatists. Even if the disaster of separation has been prevented, granting Scotland more sovereignty starting with taxation and the welfare system will be inevitable. This means moving towards a federal state system. A beautiful chapter in British history has ended and a new one has begun." (19/09/2014)

Hospodářské noviny - Czech Republic

Cameron has proven himself as statesman

The fact that the referendum on Scotland's future took place at all was a great achievement for British Prime Minister David Cameron, the liberal daily Hospodářské noviny comments approvingly: "Cameron has proven his mettle as a statesman. After all, it doesn't make sense to insist on a union when one side doesn't want it any more. Cameron was more interested in a majority decision than political power games, and for this he deserves our respect. The fate of Czechoslovakia, which was split up in 1992/1993 on the basis of an agreement between the national political leaders, was often recalled during the campaign in Scotland. Back then the people never got the chance to decide for or against a common state. The politicians said the people had already expressed their wished in the previous elections - which wasn't actually true. To this day the division still has a bitter aftertaste." (19/09/2014)

Diário de Notícias - Portugal

Both sides behaved like real gentlemen

"A gentlemen's agreement" is the term the liberal-conservative daily Diário de Notícias uses to describe the smooth progression of the Scottish referendum: "The civilised manner in which one of the most successful political projects in history allowed its very foundations to be called into question is admirable. Despite a very strong nationalist camp it was made clear in advance that in the event of the No camp winning, another referendum would not take place for at least a generation. ... Since Scotland's annexation in the 18th century the UK has had much to thank the Scots for. Its inventors contributed to the Industrial Revolution, its soldiers helped build the British Empire. But the Scots were treated well in return. Their living standard is admirable and the two prime ministers before Cameron [Brown and Blair] were Scots. ... All those who have followed the referendum can and must learn important lessons from it." (18/09/2014)

Le Soir - Belgium

EU at a loss over national identities

The referendum in Scotland has failed to provide an answer to the question of how the EU should deal with the struggles for national identity within its borders, the liberal daily Le Soir comments: "Is independence the most appropriate form for allowing people to express their identity and build the type of community that corresponds to their wishes? In Spain, the UK and in Belgium we have yet to hear a convincing yes argument in the context of the EU. That doesn't allow us to call such nationalist aspirations illegitimate, and gives us even fewer grounds to deny people the right to put them to a vote. And it certainly does not entitle the EU to threaten that [in case of a vote for independence] it will not allow the new countries to become members in their own right. Until now the supporters of the existing order, the independentists and the Europeans have in general avoided asking the real question: how can aspirations to national identity be reconciled with a united Europe?" (18/09/2014)

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