Monday May 29, 2017

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Politics in Greenland

Finished. Again

For the second time in less than two years, one of Greenland’s most popular lawmakers is digging herself out from the fallout over allegations she misused public funds
Hello, you must be going (Photo: Leiff Josefsen)

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When Aleqa Hammond resigned, in 2014, as Greenland’s premier, the assumption among the chattering classes was that the 50-something was finished in politics.

“It is too bad that Aleqa Hammond has spoilt everything for herself and her party,” an editorial in Sermitisiaq, a weekly newspaper published by this website’s parent company, wrote in the days that followed her resignation.

The judgement, and more like it, was passed after Ms Hammond had been forced to step down amid revelations that she paid for personal purchases using her official account. (Once the transgression was found out, it should be noted, the money, amounting to 100,000 kroner, or about $25,000, was eventually repaid.)

SEE RELATED: Forward no more

Initially, it appeared these predictions would come to pass: Ms Hammond chose to lie low in the immediate aftermath, sitting out the snap election called in the wake of her resignation (in which her party narrowly clung to power). Nevertheless, the reports of her political demise proved premature: in June 2015, she was voted into the Folketing, the Danish legislature, as one of Greenland’s two elected representatives in Copenhagen.

It would appear old habits, even for politicans who have made a comebacks after being tripped up by them, die hard: reports in the Danish press on Sunday revealed correspondence between Ms Hammond and the Folketing’s administration, in which the legitimacy of 13,000 kroner in charges made using her official credit card was questioned.

The card is issued to all members of the Folketing to be used to pay for expenses tied to official business. The documents, however, revealed that, over a period of three weeks, Ms Hammond had withdrawn cash in Denmark, and purchased groceries and made a 3,500 kroner payment at a DIY store in Nuuk, where she maintains her residence.

Though refusing at first to discuss her personal finances, Ms Hammond later explained that her bank account had been drained after her account with an on-line music service had been hacked, and that she had informed administrators that she was using the card for personal expenses.

SEE RELATED: Even premiers get the blues

Initially, it appeared that Siumut’s sister party in the Folketing was ready to let matter slide and permit Ms Hammond to remain affiliatedwit it, provided the money was repaid.

“I assume this was a one-off thing that has to do with an issue I haven’t been fully informed about,” Henrik Dam Kristensen, a leading member of Socialdemokraterne, told Ekstra Bladet, the newspaper that originally broke the story.

It was, in fact, the fourth time Ms Hammond has been accused of financial transgressions, and though she will remain in the Folketing, it is as a politican without a party.

Socialdemokraterne wound up withdrawing its support after she voluntarily quit Siumut, which, she told the Danish media, she had done only because the leadership gave her the Hobson’s choice of resigning the Folketing or being removed.

“I have promised to fight for the issues in which I believe, and a lot of people voted for me. Therefore, I choose to continue, and that means I have chosen to become independent.”

It also means that the should she spoil her next comeback, Siumut will not be there to be dragged into the mess.