Greenland premier calls for inclusivity ahead of general election

By Kevin McGwin, Arctic Now - January 3, 2018
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Greenland premier Kim Kielsen began 2018 by using his New Year’s address to urge candidates for the national assembly not to point fingers during their campaigns. (Leiff Josefsen)
Greenland premier Kim Kielsen began 2018 by using his New Year’s address to urge candidates for the national assembly not to point fingers during their campaigns. (Leiff Josefsen)

Candidates for Greenland’s general election later this year have been urged to campaign on issues that can bind the country together, rather than continuing a divisive debate about independence.

“Independence is also a matter of identity and liberty. Think what we could achieve by being more inclusive, instead of digging divides. Think of what we could achieve by praising each other, rather than by pointing fingers,” said Kim Kielsen, the premier, during his New Year’s address.

Few in Greenland oppose eventual independence from Denmark, leaving the debate over how quickly the process should proceed.

Kielsen has often reiterated his stance that a decision about when the country is capable of standing on his own will be made by future generations.

For now, the go-slow approach appears to hold sway in Kielsen’s leading Siumut party, after he survived a challenge to his leadership this summer by Vittus Qujaukitsoq, a former foreign minister, and a vocal proponent of a rapid break from Copenhagen.

Kielsen began his four-year term in a snap election on November 28, 2014 after a moment of chaos in Greenlandic politics saw the resignation of Aleqa Hammond as the country’s leader amid questions about her use of public funds for private expenses.

Despite earning the same number of seats in the national assembly as the second largest party, Kielsen and Siumut earned 1 percent more of the popular vote and governed as part of a three-party coalition until 2016, when it broke up over internal disagreement.

Since then, Kielsen has headed a unity coalition that controls 25 of the 31 seats in the national assembly.

The new government put independence high on its agenda, in part by creating a ministry specifically to manage such issues, including the drafting of a constitution.

The coalition has also sought to make progress on other issues, including economic reforms, infrastructure and the development of a mining industry. And it was those issues Kielsen chose to focus on during his address.

“We need to focus on creating the growth and development we want to see our country experience. But this is something we need to do together, by supporting our children and each other, instead of focusing on each other’s shortcomings,” Kielsen said.