Posts Tagged ‘Siumut’

Greenland votes today on whether to let the Chinese in

March 12, 2013

Greenland flag

UPDATE!

Greenland’s main opposition leader, who campaigned on a platform of greater control and higher taxes of foreign miners, gained the biggest number of votes in a national parliamentary election, underscoring a backlash against the island’s fast globalisation.

Aleqa Hammond’s Siumut party won around 42 percent of votes, or around 14 seats in the 31-seat parliament, meaning she will need to form a coalition. Prime Minister Kuupik Kleist won around 34 percent of votes, according to official results published by Greenland’s national KNR broadcaster.

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Not that it is very relevant to the “general” election being held in Greenland today, but I had not really appreciated that Greenland (and half of Iceland and a large chunk of Siberia and part of Japan) are part of the North American Continental plate.  Greenland has been inhabited – off and on – for some 5000 years (from c. 2500 – 3000 BCE) and initially by the ancestors of the Arctic peoples (paleo-Eskimos). The Scandinavian link goes back to around 1200 years ago (900 CE).

 Norsemen settled on the uninhabited southern part of Greenland beginning in the 10th century. Inuit peoples arrived in the 13th century. The Norse colonies disappeared in the late 15th century. In the early 18th century, Scandinavia and Greenland came back into contact with each other, and Denmark established sovereignty over the island. Having been ruled by Denmark-Norway for centuries, Greenland became a Danish colony in 1814, and a part of the Danish Realm in 1953 under the Constitution of Denmark. In 1979, Denmark granted home rule to Greenland, and in 2008, Greenlanders voted to transfer more power from the Danish royal government to the local Greenlandic government. Under the new structure, in effect since June 21, 2009, the Danish government retains control of foreign affairs, national defence, the police force, and the justice system. …

Following World War II, the United States developed a geopolitical interest in Greenland, and in 1946 the United States offered to buy Greenland from Denmark for $100,000,000, but Denmark refused to sell.

Kuupik Kleist, prime minister of Greenland Рус...

Kuupik Kleist, prime minister of Greenland (wikipedia)

The Inuit Ataqatigiit Party which is currently in power in the “Home Rule” Government is a curious mixture of being both left-leaning and somewhat nationalistic. Their target is for an economic and politically independent Greenland and want to reduce the financial support from the Danish government by increasing the rate at which Greenland’s mineral resources are exploited. But to do that they will need labour and it seems that this could come from China. If they win the election today it could open the door for 2,000 – 3,000 Chinese engineers and miners. The opposition Siumut Party seems to have very similar goals but they don’t agree with bringing the Chinese in.

Aleqa Hammond Siumut leader

The BBC reports:

Voters go to the polls in Greenland on Tuesday, in an election dominated by the question of how the territory should exploit its mineral riches. Nearly 70% of 57,000 inhabitants are eligible to vote in Greenland, a Danish territory with partial autonomy.

Many are keen to reduce reliance on Denmark’s annual subsidy of $576m (£387m).

Iron, uranium and rare earths lie underground, but opinions differ over how to extract them. The latest poll predicts a tight race between the governing left-leaning Inuit Ataqatigiit party (IA) and the opposition Siumut party, reports the BBC’s Malcolm Brabant from the Danish capital, Copenhagen.

They will be fighting for 31 seats in a home rule government. There is only one polling station in the capital, Nuuk – a town of 15,000 with only two traffic lights.

The IA – headed by Prime Minister Kuupik Kleist – is in favour of importing cheap, foreign, mainly Chinese labour to mine iron ore. Siumut – led by Aleqa Hammond – is opposed to the plan, which could see Greenland’s population increase by 5%.

The election will be monitored in China, which wants Greenland’s iron for its expanding economy, and in turn by European Union officials who have expressed concern about China’s influence in the territory. ..


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