Greenland’s constitutional commission prompts controversy

By Arne F. Finne, High North News - November 22, 2017
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Nuuk, Greenland's capital, played host to the 2016 Arctic Winter Games. Will hosting the games raise Greenland's global profile (Oliver Schauf via Wikimedia Commons)
The allocation of a residence in Nuuk, Greenland’s capital, for the chair of the constitutional commission has raised objections. (Oliver Schauf via Wikimedia Commons)

The commission established to write a proposed constitution for Greenland has caused widespread and sometimes angry debate on the island.

Greenland’s dream of eventually achieving independence has led the parliament, the Inatsisartut, to establish a commission that is to write a proposed constitution for the country.

So far, the commission itself is what has stirred the biggest debate, most lately about remuneration for the commission’s members, according to Sermitsiaq.ag.

While the commission’s mandate clearly states that its members “shall not receive remuneration for their work on the commission,” it appears that the recently adopted budget for Greenland has set aside a sum of half a million Danish kroner (€ 67,000) for that very same purpose.

The commentary fields of the newspaper exploded with the news. The commission’s chairperson, Vivian Motzfeldt, referred questions to Naalakkersuisut (the Greenlandic Home Rule Authorities) when asked about the case.

A few days ago, it became public knowledge that Motzfeldt will be allocated an official residence in Greenland’s capital, Nuuk, in relation to her work on the commission. Motzfedt lives and works in Quaqortoq, in the southernmost part of the country.

The official residence as well as the potential remuneration of the commission’s members, which contradicts the regulations adopted by the Inatsisartut, has stirred anger in Greenland.

Michael Rosing, an independent representative, says to the newspaper that it is “democratically quite dubious” that the Naalakkersuisut, which holds absolute majority in the parliament, changes the mandate for the Commission on its own.

The commentators speak of ‘kleptocracy,’ abuse of power, about politicians filling their own pockets at the expense of the community.

All members of the constitutional commission are members of the Greenlandic parliament.

Translated from the original Norwegian by Elisabeth Bergquist.