EDINBURGH: Scotland’s pro-independence leader Alex Salmond said the eyes of the world are on a momentous referendum next week, as the latest poll suggested voters will narrowly choose to remain in the United Kingdom.
Many nations with separatist movements are following the campaign closely — including Spain, where the government has ruled out a referendum for Catalan independence or devolution.
Salmond said on Thursday that the September 18 poll would be “a process of national empowerment”, as new figures came out showing a record 4.3 million people had registered to vote higher than for any previous elections in Scotland.
“Scotland is on the cusp of making history.
The eyes of the world are upon Scotland,” Salmond, Scottish First Minister and the head of Scotland’s current devolved government, said in an Edinburgh speech.
“On September 18, we the people hold our destiny in our own hands.”
British media said new figures meant 97 percent of the electorate had now registered to vote, including many 16- and 17-year-olds who are allowed to take part under referendum rules.
But a new poll showed voters could narrowly reject independence, putting the “No” side four points ahead of the pro-independence camp — with 52 percent against independence and 48 percent in favour when “don’t knows” were excluded.
It was the first time the “No” campaign had gained ground in a YouGov poll since early August, when surveys began to show the pro-independence side receiving a surge of support.
The previous YouGov poll on Saturday put the pro-independence side narrowly ahead.
The vote would bring to an abrupt end a 307-year-old union between England and Scotland and create Europe’s newest state since the disintegration of Yugoslavia in the 1990s.