A political power struggle had been developing in Greenland for some time. The former head of government and leader of the ruling party Siumut, Kim Kielsen, had narrowly escaped a vote of no confidence in parliament in October. But the quarrels both within the party and with the coalition partners ended with Kielsen being voted out as party leader and new elections being called early. And they have brought a small earthquake: the Social Democrats, who have been in power until now, are losing power to the opposition, the left-green party Inuit Ataqatigiit IA, who will now also provide the prime minister.
In Greenland’s parliament, the Inatsisartut, the IA becomes the strongest party with 12 seats, followed by the previously ruling Siumut party, which retains 10 seats. The remaining 9 seats go to the centrist-populist Naleraq Party (4), the Democrats (3) and the unionist Atassut Party (2). According to official figures, a total of 189 candidates had registered for the 31 seats in parliament. Of the 41,126 Greenlanders entitled to vote, 27,079 had cast their ballot, which corresponds to a turnout of 65.8 percent. There will be 10 women in the newly elected parliament, 56 had stood for election. The new party Nunatta Qitornai, the former coalition partner of Siumut, did not make it back into parliament.
What surprised many was not the change of power in parliament, but the fact that former Prime Minister Kim Kielsen was able to gather more votes in the parliamentary election than Erik Jensen. The latter had replaced Kielsen as party leader in an internal party election last November. “I will continue as chairman, despite the result,” Jensen told Sermitisaq newspaper. There is more unity in the new governing party, where leader Múte Bourup Egede had a brilliant result, receiving more than 42 percent of all party votes. With the victory, his party will take over the government of Greenland for the second time after 2009 – 2013 and lead the destiny of the country.
The change of power in the Greenlandic parliament does not come as a complete surprise. For the previously ruling Siumut party and Kim Kielsen had come under increasing criticism in recent months. The issues at stake were mining and fishing, two central aspects of Greenlandic politics. The internal party discussions about Kielsen’s decisions had also cast their shadows. But Erik Jensen doesn’t want to hear about stagnation or even paralysis. He said the party would now wait and see if and what the new ruling party would offer for a coalition. The other parties are also ready for coalition talks. In purely mathematical terms, Naleraq and former Prime Minister Hans Enoksen see themselves as possible partners. He also stressed to the media that his party had maintained a good working relationship with IA over the years. So far Múte Bourup Egede has not said with whom coalition talks should be started. What is certain is that with the election results a new political wind will blow that will point the way forward at this time. For it is not only the natural climate that will slowly change in Greenland.
Dr Michael Wenger, PolarJournal
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