A campaign for California independence which has taken inspiration from the pro-independence movement in Scotland has been given a major boost after the state’s leading ballot official announced the proposal had passed legal muster.
The bid for America’s most populous state to secede, dubbed ‘Calexit’, would see the state, which has nearly 40 million residents, become an independent country.
Organisers now have until October to collect the 365,880 signatures (5 per cent of the registered voters in the state) for a statewide referendum on the issue to take place.
California’s constitution allows statewide ‘ballot initiatives’ or referenda, to take place on given issues if there are enough signatures collected.
The notion of California secession has been a fringe political idea in the United States for decades, but the election of Donald Trump has seen an upsurge in support for the move.
California is generally seen as a liberal state, with Hillary Clinton defeating Donald Trump there in the 2016 election by a margin of over four million votes.
Republicans frequently criticise the state, with tourism and the entertainment and computing industries among the major drivers of the economy making it the USA’s richest.
The ‘Yes California’ campaign has taken inspiration from the Yes Scotland movement which tried to secure independence in the referendum of 2014, using that campaign’s branding and logo as they attempt to surmount serious challenges in their bid to leave the USA.
A referendum would take place in May 2021 if the ballot initiative is successful.
Co-founder Louis Marinelli told the Scotsman: “In the United States, the term ‘secession’ carries with it the weight of the American Civil War and the slavery the secessionists fought to preserve.
“Scottish independence from the United Kingdom has provided a modern-day example of a peaceful and legal secession from a political union, now branded as independence, by a people who have respect for human rights, and a genuine care for our environment and world, just as we do here in California.”