Economic crisis instead of uranium wealth: Greenlanders are struggling for their future. Nevertheless, they voted only timidly for change in their parliamentary election.
Leader of the Social Democrats Kim Kielsen. Photo: dpa
After a narrow victory in Greenland’s parliamentary election, the ruling Social Democrats must start looking for coalition partners. The ruling Siumit party, which has dominated Greenlandic politics for decades, came in ahead of the left-leaning IA party with 34.3 percent of the vote at the end of the count on Saturday, with 33.2 percent. In Greenland’s parliament, the two parties will each get 11 of the 31 mandates. "The election result shows that society is divided," Leftist politician Aqqaluaq Egede told Greenlandic Radio.
The early election had become necessary after the government broke up in October over an expenses affair involving Prime Minister Aleqa Hammond. Although the Social Democrats under their new leader Kim Kielsen lost significant votes compared to the 2013 election, they can now negotiate with smaller parties to form a government. In addition to the Social Democrats and the Left, the liberal Atassut, the social-liberal Democrats and the new Naleraq party, which wants to liberalize fishing, are entering parliament.
A grand coalition, which many Greenlanders had wanted according to pre-election polls, is also possible. The polar island, which is partly autonomous and belongs to Denmark, needs a strong government to lead the ailing economy out of the crisis. Although all parties were striving for reforms, they were not very concrete during the election campaign, said political scientist Ulrik Pram Gad.
The great wealth that the Greenlanders hope to achieve through the exploitation of their mineral resources such as uranium and rare earths has so far failed to materialize, and the search for oil off the coast has stalled. Income from tourism is also not yet flowing as desired. In the Arctic country, which has a population of around 56,000 and is largely dependent on fishing, one in ten people is unemployed. The difficult economic situation has also made the country’s independence from the Kingdom of Denmark a distant prospect.