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Greenland’s premier isn’t afraid to admit that the past few weeks have been something of a challenge.
Allegations of nepotism. A former premier leaving her political party. Concerns among investors that political turmoil could affect their returns.
That’s a lot for a leader to deal with, even if you just nine months ago received more votes than any candidate in your county’s history. So perhaps Hammond was just letting off some much needed steam on Monday when she posted a Facebook status update, in Greenlandic and English, saying she sometimes had the urge to cry.
The update, she explained, was her way of “showing her softer side” – although she’s quick to add that the second half of the update pointed out that there were more good days than bad.
“It shows that I’m a woman and not just hard talk about minerals. I also have feelings,” she said, noting that the update was made on her personal Facebook profile, not her political profile.
The party that stands together But while the situation might be giving Hammond ample reason to show she’s got a softer side, she warned observers not to take it as a sign of wider political problems in Greenland.
“Questions about the longevity of a government are natural in a democracy,” she said. “What critics should be looking at is whether democracy and freedom of speech are ingrained in the national culture.”
And in Greenland’s case, she reassured, they are.
“Just because a leader has hit a rough patch doesn’t mean that a country is unsafe or difficult or that investments will go away. Greenland has a tradition of strong democratic values.”
Few have doubted Hammond’s ability to represent her country abroad. Now though, it is domestic politics that need her attention if she is to preserve her party’s single-seat majority in parliament.
That possibility has become more a likelihood after Hans Enoksen, who ruled Greenland from 2002 until 2009, quit Hammond’s Siumut party out of frustration over the way it was conducting its business. He has said he will start his own opposition party, and warned that there were other Siumut MPs who will join him.
Hammond declined to speak about Enoksen’s defection, but said that people shouldn’t confuse differences of opinion within the party with lack of cohesion.
“My party is standing together.”
Three more years Addressing the concerns about her slim majority in parliament, Hammond pointed out that Enoksen himself held just a single-seat edge at times during his tenure. She believes her own majority will remain intact thanks to the strength of her coalition and her personal popularity.
“I got the highest number of personal votes in Greenlandic history in the 2013 general election because I was clear about what I stood for – repealing the uranium ban and implementing royalty payments for mining firms – and the population of Greenland responded clearly.”
Hammond admits these are tough times, but she also feels that many of the decisions she’s making are “unavoidable”.
“We are facing changes that require us to have a premier who can made difficult decisions. I’m here to make the country run. I am here to make good decisions about the economy.”
Hammond can hear the criticism of her leadership – including an on-line petition for a new election and a possible no-confidence vote in parliament later this month – but she said she was sticking by the mandate voters gave her in March.
“It would be wrong if I put a petition higher than election. I respect the voters and I respect the terms I work under. And that’s a four-year term. I accept that people are going to give me a hard time. That’s a part of my job. And that’s a part of my life.”