Independence referendum question submitted to Electoral Commission

Scottish Government wants to ask: Do you agree that Scotland should be an independent country?

Referendum: Westminster to give more power to Scottish Parliament.

The Scottish Government's preferred question for the independence referendum will be tested by the elections watchdog.

The SNP administration wants to ask: Do you agree that Scotland should be an independent country?

Deputy First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has submitted the question to the Electoral Commission, which will scrutinise it using focus groups to determine whether it is fair and easily understood, before reporting its findings.

Although the government and parliament is not bound by the watchdog's conclusions, constitutional experts say ignoring its advice would be unusual.

The final wording will be included in the Referendum Bill which will come before the Scottish Parliament in spring 2013.

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% 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."

John McCormick, Electoral Commissioner for Scotland, said: "We will assess the referendum question to see whether voters find it clear, simple and neutral. If it isn't, we'll say what needs to be done.

"As part of our assessment process, we will talk to voters across Scotland to see whether they can easily understand and answer the question on the ballot paper.

"We'll also ask for advice from accessibility and plain-language specialists, and we'll ask prospective campaigners, politicians, academics and other interested people for their views on the question. Throughout the process, our focus will always be what's in the voters' interests."

The assessment of the question will take up to 12 weeks. Assessors will consider whether it is easy to understand and to the point, and if it is unambiguous and avoids encouraging voters to consider one response more favourably than another or misleading voters.

Speaking at the Scottish Parliament's Referendum Committee on Thursday, constitutional expert Alan Trench said the Electoral Commission's advice was "sufficiently authoritative that it should normally be followed" and "if we were to get to get to the point where Parliament didn't follow that advice that would raise very serious problems for the conduct of the referendum and respect for the outcome afterwards".

One account. All of STV.

This field is required. That doesn't look like a valid e-mail format, please check. That e-mail's already in our system. Please try again.
ShowHide
Forgot password?
This field is required. At least 6 characters please. Did you enter your details correctly?
If you've forgotten your details then use the 'Forgot password?' link.
Need to reset your password?

We'll send a link to reset your password to

We've sent you details on how to reset your password

Please check your email and follow the instructions.

Forgotten your email address?

Have you forgotten the email address that you previously joined with? Don't worry, by emailing enquiries@stv.tv we can help.

One account. All of STV.

This field is required. Please enter at least 2 characters
This field is required. Please enter at least 2 characters
At least 6 characters please
ShowHide
This field is required. At least 6 characters please.
You have to be 16 or over to join
This field is required. This doesn't appear to be a valid date
Type your full postcode and select your address This field is required. It doesn't look like you've entered a valid postcode. Can't find your address? Confirm the details you've given us are correct by clicking here

By continuing you agree to our Terms of Use, including our Privacy Policy and Cookie Policy. Any issues contact us.

Upload Profile Picture

Please make sure your image is under 2mb in size and a valid JPG, PNG or GIF.

Are you sure?

Unfortunately, you'll be unable to access our premium content. We’ll be sorry to see you go, but if you change your mind you can rejoin us at any time.

Please verify your STV account

Please verify your STV account using the email we sent you. If you have lost the email, we can send you another one, just click the button below.

Thanks

We've sent you a new verification email.
Please check your email and follow the instructions to verify your account.

Welcome to STV
Thanks for joining us.

Oops!

Sorry, you must be at least 12 years old to place a vote for your Real Hero.

Please review our Voting Terms of Use for more information.

Oops!

Sorry! It seems that you are using a browser that is incompatible with our voting service.

To register your vote please copy the below URL in to your regular mobile browser. We recommend Google Chrome, or Safari.

http://shows.stv.tv/real-heroes/voting

Oops!

Sorry, you seem to have already voted in this category.

Thanks for voting

Now share your vote with friends on your social network

Share on twitter Share on facebook

Cast your vote

Please register or sign in to continue.

Cast your vote

This field is required. This doesn't appear to be a valid date

Cast your vote

Please fill out this form to cast your vote. As you are under 16 years old you will not create an STV account. Why do we need these details?

This field is required. Please enter at least 2 characters
This field is required. Please enter at least 2 characters
This field is required. That doesn't look like a valid e-mail format, please check.
Location This field is required.
Parental Consent This field is required.

That's you. All that's left is to click the 'Submit Vote' button below. By doing so, you confirm that you and your parent or guardian have read and accept our Voting Terms of Use, Privacy Policy and Cookie policy, and that the details you have entered are correct. We'll look after them as carefully as if they were our own.