Trust the Scottish people to take the best path for our future
The Electoral Reform Society Scotland welcomes the Scottish Government’s consultation on the proposed Independence referendum, and the acknowledgement from the First Minister that the choices we now face are fundamentally matters of democracy.
In that spirit, we would caution that the debate should rise above party politics and vested interests.
ERS Scotland’s Director Willie Sullivan said:
“All polling suggests that the Scottish people are clustering around three main options: status quo, so called Devo Max, and Independence.
“If there is only to be one question then the structure is straightforward; a simple Yes or No for Independence.
“If the consultation responses indicate that the Scottish people want the opportunity to vote on all three options, then the best way to do this would be to ask two questions on the same ballot paper: The first asking yes or no to any change and the second to determine what level of change. This approach was recently road-tested in New Zealand.
“This is by far the simplest and fairest way to ensure that everyone gets a real say but we are concerned that instead of ensuring that it’s the Scottish people who have a chance to determine Scotland’s future, the debate among politicians is becoming polarised and disingenuous.”
The debate on the ‘Claim of Right’ tomorrow (26 January) represents an historic opportunity to address wider questions of Scotland’s constitution and democracy.
Willie Sullivan added:
“Thursday’s debate is an important opportunity to consider what the idea of sovereignty lying with the people actually means and how we can make this a reality.
“We challenge all parties to set out how they will ensure that power in Scotland is awarded and exercised fairly and that representatives can be held to account in a manner that supports a good society.”
The Electoral Reform Society Scotland is currently developing a programme of work called ‘Demo Max’, launching in the spring, to investigate the attributes of a ‘good Scottish democracy’ in this changing constitutional climate.
For comment contact Willie Sullivan, Director of ERS Scotland on 07940523842
Notes to Editors
 The New Zealand voting system referendum of 26 November 2011 followed this model. Sample ballot papers are available online:
 Demo Max will be a programme of investigation over 18 months into what makes a good Scottish Democracy. The discussions will be based around three main themes
1) Sovereignty of the People – how is the ideal made real?
2) Protecting People Power – How to ensure the state is not unduly influenced by vested interests ( i,e Media proprietors, Lobbyists , Financial Industry )
3) Institutions of State – How is a good Scottish Democracy described, codified and embedded in the institutions and processes of the State.
The programme will consist of high level seminars, public discussions, virtual and real, reports and publications at relevant points. We hope to involve a wide range of individuals and agencies.