On the question of Greenland independence, there are fewer moderates, poll finds

By Kevin McGwin, The Arctic Journal - April 3, 2017
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Fewer Greenlanders hold moderate positions on the question of independence from Denmark than in the past, new polling finds. (Getty)
Fewer Greenlanders hold moderate positions on the question of independence from Denmark than in the past, new polling finds. (Getty)

Greenland is no stranger to extreme positions on independence. In the 1970s, while the country was still a Danish county, some said they were ready to go back to the days of coal stoves and honey buckets in exchange for their autonomy. Other prominent voices, meanwhile, spoke in favour of maintaining a permanent relationship with Denmark.

Alone, each of these positions still commands the support of a minority of Greenlandic voters. Together, however, they now account for precisely half of the participants in poll conducted by HS Analyse for Sermitsiaq, a Greenlandic newspaper published by The Arctic Journal’s parent company.

The poll of 717 representative voters finds that 23 percent are willing to accept a lower standard of living as the price of their independence. This group was nearly equally split between those in favour of independence “regardless” of the economic consequence, and those willing to accept a “slight decline” in living standards in exchange for it.

A similar poll, taken by the same organisations in 2002, found that 13 percent of the population felt the same way, including a similar near-equal split in attitudes to towards how much economic pain respondents said they were willing to bear.

At the other end of the scale, the percentage of people who favour remaining a part of the Kingdom of Denmark has risen, to 27 percent, from 18 percent in 2002.

Despite the increased polarisation, the largest group, making up 44 percent of respondents, still falls in the middle: favouring independence, but only if it does not lead to a lower standard of living. This number, however, is down from 61 percent in the 2002 poll.

The findings are similar to the results of another poll, taken in December, which indicated that 73 percent percent of people in Greenland found it important to some degree that the country declare its independence.

The latest poll finds that an increasing number are saying this is the case even if it renders their country a land of coal and honey.