Greenland government ready to ban Danish from parliament

A majority in Greenland’s newly elected coalition government is ready to require that Greenlandic be spoken in parliament

 

Greenland’s new coalition government is ready to pursue independence-minded policies, including banning Danish from being spoken in the self-governing territory’s national assembly.  

Two of the election’s big victors – Greenland’s largest party Siumut, which received 42.8 percent of the votes, and the nationalist Partii Inuit, which garnered 6.4 percent – both campaigned on policies of increased independence from Copenhagen.

Although Partii Inuit campaigned to require that Greenlandic, the country’s official language, be spoken in parliament, new premier Aleqa Hammond said yesterday after the new government was formed that such a move would only be made with the accept of Greenlanders.

Whether the language policy will pass depends on the votes of the third coalition member, Atassut, which is typically Greenland’s most pro-Danish party.

“If Siumut and Partii Inuit could choose, Danish would be banned as a political language from day one,” Lars Hovbakke Sørensen, a historian specialising in Greenlandic affairs, said.

Although Atassut would likely prevent an outright ban, Sørensen predicted that the new government would be required to address the matter after making it such a big election issue.

“They may not pass a ban but then there are other ways of toughening the language policy. One could imagine that compromise being passed that meant people would get dispensation to speak Danish from the rostrum if the asked for it,” Hovbakke said.

Meanwhile, Hammond reiterated her election pledge that Siumut and Partii Inuit would work towards Greenlandic independence, but stressed that it was not something that would happen “from one day to the next”.

She underscored that before Greenland could consider breaking away from the Danish kingdom it would need to wean itself off its 3 billion kroner annual block grant from Copenhagen. The new government intends to do so by increasing the amount of money mining are required to pay in order to be allowed to operate in Greenland.





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