Referendum question to be tested

Glasgow at night
Published on Friday, 09 November 2012 09:52
Posted by Vicki Mitchem

As set out in the Edinburgh Agreement, Deputy First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has today written to the Electoral Commission asking them to test the Scottish Government's preferred question for the autumn 2014 referendum.

The Electoral Commission will now subject the proposed question 'Do you agree that Scotland should be an independent country?' to independent testing before advising on the results in a report to be published before the Referendum Bill is considered by the Scottish Parliament.  The Parliament will then decide on the final wording of the question.

The arrangements in place in Scotland will match those for other referendums in the UK under the Westminster Political Parties, Elections and Referendums Act 2000.

Ms Sturgeon said:

"The independence referendum will meet the highest international standards.  The Electoral Commission has considerable expertise in regulating referendums and elections and I have now written to them to formally request that they provide advice and assistance to the Scottish Government by considering the wording of the question that is proposed to be on the ballot paper for the Scottish independence referendum – Do you agree that Scotland should be an independent country?

"The recently published analysis of the 26,000 responses to the Government's consultation on the referendum revealed that 64 per cent of respondents broadly agreed with this wording.

"The question will be tested to check that it is easy to understand, to the point and unambiguous.  The Electoral Commission are experts in question testing and will use focus groups and gather views from experts in accessibility and plain language and others who have an interest in the referendum and its outcome before reporting on the proposed question.

"Once they have reported back it will then be for the Scottish Parliament to decide the final wording of the question on the ballot paper."

Relevant information

Through the Edinburgh Agreement, signed on October 15, 2012, the UK and Scottish Governments are committed to working together on matters of mutual interest and to the principles of good communication and mutual respect.  The two governments have reached this agreement in that spirit.  They look forward to a referendum that is legal and fair producing a decisive and respected outcome. The two governments are committed to continue to work together constructively in the light of the outcome, whatever it is, in the best interests of the people of Scotland and of the rest of the United Kingdom.

Source: ©Scottish Government

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