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“Strong mandate” for Greenland government

Premier avoids no-confidence vote, but promises to listen more closely to voter concerns
Greenland voters, seeing red (Photo: Lieff Josefsen)

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Greenland’s beleaguered government earned a much-needed political victory yesterday after a majority in parliament turned down an opposition measure for a no-confidence vote.

Although the ruling Siumut government has a one-seat majority in parliament, the defection of Hans Enoksen to the opposition earlier this month revealed dissatisfaction with the leadership of Aleqa Hammond, the country’s premier.

Upon leaving Siumut to form his own party, Enoksen declared himself in the opposition and said that other Siumut MPs were prepared to join his party.

SEE RELATED: Shock, shame and Siumut

However, during voting yesterday, Enoksen sided with the Siumut-Atassut coalition to vote down the no-confidence vote proposal by a margin of 17 to 13.

Hammond said the vote was a clear mandate to her government, but addressing a crowd of 150 demonstrators outside the parliament calling for an early election, she said she would be more responsive to complaints about a lack of openness by the government.

“I will listen more,” she said as she was handed a petition signed by 1,600 people calling for an early election.

Mikå Mered, chief analyst for Greenlandic affairs at POLARIIS Consulting, said that despite avoiding a no-confidence vote, Hammond’s government was still troubled. 

“She’s off the hook this time,” he said. “Enoksen himself managed to keep parliament under control despite only having a one-seat majority, but after only nine months as premier, she is clearly running out of options and must offer more to voters than saying ‘I will listen more’.”

SEE RELATED: Even premiers get the blues

Prior to yesterday’s vote, she and Gerhardt Petersen, the Atassut leader, sought to addressed those concerns by releasing a joint-statement indicating that they would seek to involve the public more in the decision-making process.

Topping the list of opponents’ criticisms of Hammond’s government was what they saw as a failure to involve voters in the decision to overturn Greenland’s uranium mining ban.

The two parties said they hoped to come up with “more flexible” guidelines for dealing with mining firms interested in doing business while at the same time keeping the current regulations in place.