Scotland, for example…” “A Federalist answer?

Edinburgh remains united with London, but the need for autonomy remains. A new political process between solidarity and subsidiarity

The majority of Scots have rejected the idea of a separation from Great Britain and Unionist celebrated their victory. The most significant aspect of the decision favouring unity with England and Wales is that 45% of Scots voted for independence – with a high turnout at the polls – and that the movement for autonomy, that became ever more consistent in the course of the years, obtained the possibility of expressing claims.In distant London led by Prime Minister Cameron, they probably realized only in the last hours that the Scottish offensive was not a Folkloristic expression, but a serious question based on a fundamental political position. Too late the British leadership understood that the centralism of Westminster has become ever more unbearable for the Scots. Now, long-term proposals for federalization should grant to certain areas of the United Kingdom – England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland – the necessary degree of autonomy for their development in the interest of their citizens and for overall cohesion.In fact, autonomy doesn’t mean only independence but also responsibility for one’s own questions in terms of subsidiarity and shared responsibility of the parties towards all those involved in terms of solidarity. In a world that is becoming ever more complex and articulated, the autonomy of each area is indispensable. If the whole intends to grow and prosper it has to be able to count on sound, reliable parts. It is a crucial question of political organization, as testified by the fact that in various parts of the continent pro-autonomy movements are successful, whereas in traditional centralized States politics is not ready to share the power with those responsible at regional level. It is the specific case of strong States with a central government, with historically recognized regions whose frame of reference is a particular ethnic and/or cultural process, such as Catalonia, and the Basque Country in Spain. In those Countries with a central government with rather weak political systems, when a regionalist movement manages to attract a considerable portion of voters, exploiting xenophobic and egoistic extremisms like the Northern League in Italy, the request of independence grows virulent.Within this framework for the past decades Countries with a centralized tradition and practice have started promoting reforms granting specific responsibilities to local bodies in order to respond to the need for regional co-responsibility. It happened in France, Spain and in Italy. However, the changes occurred therein did not lead to federalist-like actions and measures taken by the central Government. Only in Belgium the pressure of situations resulting from the coexistence of different peoples in terms of culture and language might gradually lead to the State’s federalization.Only a federal system can offer a modern State the flexibility and the freedom needed to exist in the contemporary world. So it is no coincidence that those countries with a federal constitution – like Germany, Austria and Switzerland are particularly efficient and better resistant to crises compared to their neighbours with centralized structures.There is a clear relationship between the need for intra-national federalism on the one side and the supra-national federalism in the European Union on the other through the integration of its Member Countries on the basis of a constitution (or contract) in which everyone is subjected to a central authority whose policies and Constitution involve everyone. It is evident that over the past decades Europe’s unification and integration process has been coupled by an increasing tendency to develop strong self-awareness and political identity.

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