Scottish Government
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Scottish Government appoint referendum expert

First Minister Alex Salmond has yesterday appointed Professor Stephen Tierney as an independent expert advisor to help ensure the autumn 2014 independence referendum meets the highest international standards.

Professor Tierney is Professor of Constitutional Theory and Director of the Edinburgh Centre for Constitutional Law at Edinburgh University and is an internationally recognised expert on referendums. 

He will advise on issues arising from the consultation responses, including those from organisations and civic Scotland representatives, the design of the referendum ballot paper and structure of the referendum, including the question or questions.

The Scottish Government has already outlined its preferred question in the consultation paper, Your Scotland Your Referendum.  The Government will respond to the consultation and propose the question or questions, the Electoral Commission will then advise on, and test the intelligibility of the question(s) including the recommendation of any changes, and the Scottish Parliament will then decide as part of the process of legislation. This follows a process which is identical to that in current Westminster legislation.

Welcoming the appointment, Mr Salmond said:

“The autumn 2014 independence referendum will meet the highest international standards.  The Electoral Commission have been given the role of testing the ballot paper which means the arrangements in place in Scotland will be identical to those for other referendums in the UK under the Westminster Political Parties, Elections and Referendums Act 2000.

“Professor Tierney is an internationally recognised expert on referendums and I am delighted that he has agreed to provide advice on issues arising from the consultation responses, including those from organisations and civic Scotland representatives.  He will also advise on the design of the ballot paper and the structure of the referendum, including the question or questions.  I would like to thank Professor Tierney for agreeing to become an independent expert advisor to the Scottish Government.”

Professor Tierney said:

“I am honoured to accept the role of independent advisor to the referendum process.  I will provide independent, objective and publically-available advice on international best practice in the conduct of referendums.  I hope that my research in this area will also help to inform public debate more widely.”

Related information:

Professor Tierney will participate in this work on a voluntary (personal) basis and there will be no direct remuneration related to this role.  This is intended to ensure that the valuable advice provided is duly recognised as being professional and objective.  All reasonable expenses incurred in the provision of advice will be met by the Scottish Government – including travel, meal allowances and accommodation.

Professor Tierney is the author of ‘Constitutional Referendums’ (Oxford University Press, 2012).  Biographical details for Professor Tierney can be found here.

Process for referendum



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