A free and independent Free State of Bavaria? | Germany| News and in-depth reporting from Berlin and beyond | DW | 18.09.2014
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A free and independent Free State of Bavaria?

If the Scots vote 'yes,' it could be a huge boost for other independence movements around Europe. Maybe even for separatists in the southern German state of Bavaria.

"We wish our Scottish friends victory in the referendum with all our hearts," said Florian Weber, chairman of the Bavaria Party (BP), on his party's website ahead of Thursday's Scottish independence vote.

The BP is a separatist political party in Germany's southern state of Bavaria. Founded in 1946, it describes itself as patriotic Bavarian. With roughly 6,000 members, the BP is the only party in the state that demands an independent Bavaria within the European Union. The BP has already drafted an amendment to Bavaria's Constitution with the aim of seceding from Germany.

Self-rule under a Bavarian flag of white and blue

In Bavaria's 2013 state elections, the party made its best showing in decades by winning 2.1 percent of the vote. But it has a ways to go toward making the leap over the state parliament's 5 percent hurdle before it can even consider proposing a referendum on independence.

By comparison: the Scottish nationalists (SNP) have had a majority government in Edinburgh since 2011.

Two young women wearing dirndl dresses © mma23 - Fotolia.com

Some Bavarians have an avid interest in the Scottish independence campaign

Europe is watching events unfold in Scotland, in particular separatist movements in Spain - the Basques and the Catalans - as well as in Belgium, where the Walloons and Flemish don't see eye to eye, and possibly in Northern Ireland.

Independence strengthens democracy, Weber argued. "The larger the political unit, the less chance individuals have of being heard."

Whatever the state parliament in Munich decides, major decisions are taken in Berlin, so independence would be advantageous for Bavaria, Weber said in a German newspaper interview.

Not very likely

"Bavaria Can Also Go It Alone" is the title of a book calling for Bavarian independence published two years ago by Wilfried Scharnagl, longtime editor-in-chief of the "Bayernkurier" weekly. But how serious are ordinary Bavarians about a free Free State of Bavaria?

A 2011 study by the Hanns-Seidel Foundation, affiliated with the Bavarian Christian Social Union (CSU) wing of Chancellor Merkel's Christian Democrats, found that more than 20 percent of Bavarians questioned were pro-independence, and 16 percent could at least imagine independence. Weber conceded that he has his work cut out for him to convince a majority of Bavarians of the virtues of a separate state.

Conservative, prosperous Bavaria might not mind keeping the billions of euros in subsidies it is required to transfer to German federal states that are not as well off. Geographically, it is Germany's largest federal state and in 2012, Bavaria had the second-strongest economic performance in Germany after populous North Rhine-Westphalia. Adidas, Audi and BMW are internationally renowned Bavarian brands.

And incidentally - who would Bayern Munich play if they were no longer part of the Bundesliga?

A vast majority of "Merkur-Online" readers - 83 percent- questioned in March 2014 felt the rich southern region could go it alone.

But 16 percent of the users commented: Nonsense, Bavaria needs Germany and vice versa.

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