Why some Bavarians want a Scottish 'Yes'
One group in Germany is taking a particularly keen interest in the Scottish referendum on independence - the Bavarian Party. The separatist party's chairman tells The Local why he is rooting for the Scottish nationalists.
His party hasn’t had a seat in the Bavarian Parliament since 1966 and attracted just 2.1 percent of the vote in elections last year, but Florian Weber is taking heart from the success of the Scottish independence campaign.
Weber, chairman of the Bayernpartei (Bavarian Party) since 2007, hopes the success of Scotland’s independence movement, which is neck-and-neck in the polls with the 'No' camp, could have a knock-on effect in Bavaria.
“We wish our Scottish friends victory in the referendum with all our hearts,” he said.
"A ‘Yes’ vote would have a positive effect on other regions in Europe. For us in Bavaria it would be a real boost and it would no longer be so easy for our media to negate or ridicule this topic.”
The party, which has around 5,000 members and wants a referendum on Bavarian independence, has declined sharply from its fifties heyday when it had 17 MPs in the German Parliament,
But it still fields candidates at every election. Its vote of 2.1 percent at the last Bavarian state elections in 2013 was its best showing since 1962.
While there are some parallels between Bavaria and Scotland, the fortunes of the independence movements of the two would-be independent states have travelled in different directions.
The last time voters in Bavaria went to the polls, at the European elections earlier this year, the Bayernpartei got 1.3 percent of the vote. The Scottish National Party (SNP) took 29 percent.
The Scottish nationalists have increased their share of the vote in every Scottish Parliament election since 1999 and have had a majority government in Edinburgh since 2011.
But Weber is not put off and sees a clear link between the independence of the two states. “The independence of Scotland and also of Bavaria is not only possible but also necessary for the well-being of the people living there,” Weber added.
“An independent Scotland would be connected to its people more, giving a real boost to democracy and involvement. The larger the political unit, the less chance individuals have of being heard.”
Despite the lack of appetite in Bavaria for independence, Weber points out that smaller states often cede from larger ones, citing the example of Czechoslovakia.
“Both [Czech Republic and Slovakia] are EU member states and have a good relationship. Both are smaller than Bavaria," he added.
Weber accused the German media of showing little interest in the Scottish referendum. But that changed after this weekend when a poll in The Sunday Times put the 'Yes' camp ahead for the first time.
Spiegel Online criticized UK Prime Minister David Cameron on Monday for playing a "risky game of poker" with the Scottish referendum.