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Lars-Emil Johansen (pictured above) has held his fair share of titles: teacher, party chair, MP in Denmark, MP in Greenland, premier, executive and now president of the national assembly. One title he has decided not to accept is chair of the country’s newly established constitutional commission.
After long maintaining there was no conflict of interest between serving as chair of the commission while also holding the title of president of the national assembly (a view upheld by an ethics committee this week), Mr Johansen has come to the conclusion that the decorum required of his duties as assembly president would prevent him from speaking freely about the work he was engaged in as chair of the commission.
Others had also suggested that the position of chair should be held by someone from a younger generation.
Mr Johansen, who is 70, is an ardent supporter of Greenland taking the shortest path possible to independence. Not everyone is in such a rush. Kim Kielsen, the current premier, and 20 years Mr Johansen’s junior, believes independence is a task “for the next generation”, for example.
Future generations are even cooler on the idea: last month, a group of young people called on lawmakers to concern themselves more with social issues than independence.
Older generations are also worried: during a recent town-hall meeting, senior-citizens expressed concern that the drive to independence risked marginalising those with mixed backgrounds.
As the search for a chair begins anew in the coming week, the question appears not to be whether candidates have conflicts of interest, but how in tune with public opinion they are.