"The Nineteenth century saw a great Springtime of Nations as the revolutions of 1848 saw new countries created the length and breadth of Europe. In our world today we are now seeing our own Spring Awakening with people and cultures that have long been dormant and subdued asserting their right to exist, their right to dream." Adam Price MP
This means Quebec, which has had two votes on leaving Canada, is the only place in more than a century where an independence referendum has not ultimately resulted in separation.
Support for an independent Scotland is still lower than support for the UK. Unionist parties were quick to point out last night that Dr Qvortrup’s statistics do not take this fact into account.
Nothing is for certain
Even so, writing exclusively for the Scottish Sunday Express today, he says that previous referendums have had a surprisingly high success rate.
He writes: “The Canadian political scientist Jean Laponce found that 46 referendums on independence had been held since Norway voted to secede from Sweden in 1905.
“Interestingly, of these only four – two in Quebec, one in Montenegro and one in Malta – resulted in defeat, and in both the latter two, the Montenegrins and the Maltese later reversed the decision and voted for independence a decade later.
“Several of these 46 plebiscites have concerned independence from Britain, such as the independence referendum in Malta in 1964 and the poll on Newfoundland leaving the UK and joining Canada in 1948.”
Other referendums which resulted in independence include Southern Sudan earlier this year, Montenegro in 2006, East Timor in 1999, Eritrea in 1993, Algeria in 1961 and Iceland in 1944.
Dr Qvortrup also concludes that Scottish Secretary Michael Moore’s suggestion that there should be two ballots in Scotland was “undemocratic”.
A spokesman for the First Minister welcomed today’s article but stressed the Scottish Government is taking “nothing for granted”.
The Conservatives yesterday also said they are confident that Scots will make it a total five “no” votes in 2014 or 2015.
Meanwhile, the First Minister has dismissed Prime Minister David Cameron’s desire for the question on the ballot paper to read: “Do you wish Scotland to remain part of the United Kingdom?”
That would mean Unionist parties could style themselves as the “yes” campaign, believed to have a more positive impact with voters.
Last week, it also emerged that Scottish ministers favour two separate questions on the ballot paper, the first on independence and the second on full fiscal autonomy.