Monday May 29, 2017

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Northern polarised

A minority of voters now occupies the middle ground in Greenland’s independence debate
A double negative

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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 this website’s parent company.

The poll of 717 representative voters finds that 23% are willing to accept a lower standard of living as the price of their independence. This group was nearly equally spilt 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.

SEE RELATED: “Not enough” minerals in Greenland to fund independence: report

A similar poll, taken by the same organisations in 2002, found that 13% of the population felt the same way, including a similar near-equal spilt 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%, from 18% in 2002.

Despite the increased polarisation, the largest group, making up 44% 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% in the 2002 poll.

The findings are similar to the results of another poll, taken in December, which indicated that 73% 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.