This year Faroe islanders go the polls.

Their vote, in a general election to take place no later than October 29, has striking parallels with Scottish politics.

The Faroes, just 230 miles north of Shetland, belong to the Kingdom of Denmark. But, like Scotland in the UK, they are recognised as a distinct nation, and have won large powers of self government.

Unlike Scotland, the Faroese (there are just 49,000 of them) have voted for outright independence. That was in 1946. But it was too much for Copenhagen to swallow at the time.

Today, in practice, the Faroes manage nearly all their own affairs. Yet, 70 years after their first independence vote, another referendum is a possibility.

Denmark has constitutionally opened the possibility for the islands to ask for Independence at a time of their choosing. But, as in Scotland, opinion is divided.

This division partly cuts across the normal right-left political spectrum. In a parliament, the Logting, of just 33 members, coalitions of several small parties are the rule.

That makes it hard for any given government to claim a clear pro-independence mandate. The distinction has been, rather, between those who want to stretch the bounds of self-rule, and those who don't.

The present ruling coalition, led by Kaj Leo Johannesen of the Union Party, took power after a swing to the right in 2011. Its proclaimed policy was not just to stand still on independence, but also to reverse some steps towards greater autonomy.

Perhaps most symbolically, it abolished what had been called the "foreign ministry". It also asked the Danes for an increase in subsidies that account for 10 per cent of total Faroese public spending.

This was hard for many Faroese, proud of their growing self-sufficiency, to stomach. Moreover, Denmark declined to pay up.

As a result, Mr Johannsen's government is losing ground in the polls. His coalition partner, The People's Party, has lost some discontented pro-independence voters.

Crucially, the prime minister himself is in trouble. His regressive tax policies and social conservatism are unpopular. An inquiry in to his personal affairs is expected to report back soon. This might even provoke a snap election.

Disgruntled voters are moving towards the pro-union Social Democratic Party and the centre-right, pro-independence Progress Party.

The two main pro-independence parties, Republic and Self-Government, hope the same trend could propel them into a coalition government.

That doesn't mean an independence referendum will happen for sure. A government led by the Social Democrats, for example, would prioritise fiscal, social and economic problems.

There may even be a place at the cabinet for the Union Party, especially if the Faroes are to build a consensus for tough reforms on fishing quotas, a key area.

But putting the Faroes' house in order in this way could well be seen as the necessary foundation for full sovereignty in the longer term.

Moreover, just as in Scotland, votes won by pro-independence parties could provide a mandate for a degree of experimentation in foreign affairs, even within a non-sovereign framework.

The Republic Party is keen to open a mission in Nuuk, Greenland, as part of the ongoing intensification of "West Nordic" co-operation with that nation and Iceland.

Denmark remains responsible for formal diplomacy and defence but no longer has a military HQ on the islands.

The Faroes already have an edge on Scotland in making sure their voice is heard in the world.

The islands maintain four quasi-diplomatic missions abroad and are opening another in Moscow, while Scotland has only two.

Some thinkers want to see the Faroes adopt an increasingly independent foreign policy, widening from an existing Arctic strategy.

Any movement towards greater autonomy in the Faroes, especially on the international stage, will have real resonance in Greenland, which also remains tied to Denmark. Scots might want to pay attention too.