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Scots have rejected independence from the United Kingdom, by a vote of 55.3 per cent to 44.7 per cent, in a referendum that was watched closely by the rest of Britain, its allies, investors and restive regions at home and abroad.

Here's what you need to know about what happens now.

Pro-union supporters celebrate (Getty Images)

What does a No vote mean?

Scotland is still part of the United Kingdom, but there could still be negotiations and changes about Scotland's status within the union. British Finance Minister George Osborne had pledged to give the Scots more fiscal and budgetary autonomy and more control over welfare if they voted No.

What was the question?

Compared with the lengthy wordings of the 1980 and 1995 Quebec referendums, the Scottish ballot asked a straightforward question: “Should Scotland be an independent country?”

There was no minimum turnout or specified supermajority for the referendum. A simple majority (50 per cent plus 1) wins.

Who voted?

A remarkable 97 per cent of eligible voters registered to vote, a total just shy of 4.3 million residents. Eligible voters included Scotland residents who are 16 and older and are British citizens; qualifying Commonwealth citizens; or citizens of a European Union member state.

Yes leader Alex Salmond (left) and No leader Alistair Darling (Reuters and Getty Images)

Who led the Yes and No camps?

In May, 2011, the Scottish National Party won a landslide victory. Its leader, Alex Salmond, campaigned on a promise of a referendum on independence and voters gave the SNP the first majority government since the establishment of a Scottish Parliament in 1999. Along with the Scottish Green Party, they form the pro-independence side. Following Friday's results, Mr. Salmond resigned as first minister and leader of his political party, saying "For Scotland, the campaign is not over and the dream will never die."

The Better Together pro-union campaign, led by Labour MP Alistair Darling, is a coalition founded with Scotland’s Liberal Democrat, Conservative and Labour parties. The three main Westminster parties’ leaders, including Prime Minister David Cameron, have campaigned strongly in favour of union.

The Queen is shown at Bayeux cemetery, northern France, on June 6, 2014. LEON NEAL/ASSOCIATED PRESS

What did the Queen think?

Both the separatist and unionist sides agree that Queen Elizabeth II will continue to be Scotland's monarch, either as"Queen of Scots" or under the dual English-Scottish monarchy that the U.K. has had since 1707.
The Queen, whose role traditionally obligates her to remain neutral on political matters, has only cautiously weighed in on the independence vote, saying on Sept. 15 that Scots should"think very carefully about the future."

Scotland's First Minister and leader of the independence campaign Alex Salmond (L) greets Quebec's former Premier and leader of the separatist PQ party Pauline Marois in January 29, 2013. (Reuters)

The parallels: Canada and Quebec

The parallels are striking for Canadians following the Scottish referendum. Sovereigntists are cheering for the Yes camp, while federalists are reminded of the final days of the 1995 referendum on Quebec sovereignty, with the No side in disarray. But there are clear differences between the two ballots:

  • The question: The National Assembly had sole responsibility for the questions that were put to Quebeckers in 1980 and 1995. Both were convoluted, with a call for an economic union with Canada to be ratified in a second referendum in 1980, and a reference to a potential political union with Canada in 1995. By comparison, the Scottish question is a six-word testament to clarity:"Should Scotland be an independent country?" The Scottish question was determined after negotiations with Westminster.
  • Terms and conditions: The future after a Yes vote in 1980 or 1995 was never established, with no clear path to negotiations with the rest of Canada. In Scotland, the issue of currency remained at the centre of heated debates, but negotiations had already been scheduled to start in the event of a Yes victory, predicted to last 18 months. Key issues would have involved sharing the debt and the North Sea oil between Scotland and the rest of the U.K., and Scotland's participation in international organizations. Similar issues could one day surface in Quebec, with the Scottish case serving as a potential model.
  • Identity: Scotland has a clear identity inside the U.K., but the Yes side focused its campaign on political issues and a potential for a more progressive country. The issue of identity is much harder to extract from the Canadian debate. At the heart of the sovereignty movement lies the sense that Quebec's francophone majority is in peril and that getting out of Canada is the best way to ensure the survival of the French language in North America. Still, the PQ took a beating in the last provincial election after promising a Charter of Values that would have banned some religious symbols among provincial workers. Seen as rooted in the past, the sovereigntist option lost support among young Quebeckers, prompting the PQ to revise its approach to identity issues in the upcoming leadership race. It hasn't been lost on Quebec sovereigntists that a factor in the Yes camp's success is that the voting age has been lowered to 16 in Scotland.

Daniel LeBlanc