Scotland politics

SNP speak to Quebec nationalists about independence referendum

Map of Quebec
Image caption Quebec has had two independence referendums in 30 years

The SNP has sought advice from Quebec nationalists ahead of the referendum on independence for Scotland.

The SNP's Westminster leader, Angus Robertson, travelled to Canada last summer to consult key figures in the Parti Québecois, which wants independence for the province.

The Quebec nationalists have fought and lost two referendums.

The last one was in 1995, where they fell just 53,000 votes short.

The SNP is keen to learn lessons to help the party win in 2014.

Two former premiers of the province say they were consulted, but it is not just the SNP which is drawing on the Quebec experience.

A senior Downing Street adviser also visited the dominion as the UK government considered its response to plans for a vote on Scottish independence.

Politicians on all sides in Canada say it is vital for clear referendum rules to be agreed in advance.

The 1995 referendum, on a motion to decide whether Quebec should secede from Canada, was defeated by a very narrow margin of 49.42% voting "yes" to 50.58% voting "no".

There was a huge turnout, with 94% of the 5,087,009 registered Quebecers taking part.

'Clear question'

Most French speakers voted for independence but there was a big "no" majority in Montreal, where the bulk of Quebec's English speakers and immigrants live.

The aboriginal peoples of the province also strongly voted against secession.

As a result of the 1995 referendum, the Canadian federal government passed the 2000 Clarity Act.

It stated that any future referendum would have to be on a "clear question".

It also said that any result would have to represent a "clear majority" for the federal parliament to recognize its validity.

However, the meaning of both a "clear question" and a "clear majority" is unspecified.