Denmark muted forever? Left-wingers’ win in Greenlandic election could be telling for island’s future independence

But with just over a third of the votes, Inuit Ataqatigiit will need to secure over half of the mandates. Lengthy negotiations look likely

Múte Inequnaaluk Bourup Egede. Take note of the name. Because this young man’s party,  Inuit Ataqatigiit (IA), has just won the Greenlandic elections.

Should the 34-year-old become the premier, he could prove to be a thorn in the side of Mette Frederiksen’s government, as his party’s socialist politics suggests he might prove to be an outspoken opponent of Danish policy regarding the island, as well as a fierce proponent of full independence. 

The irony of his christian name will be commented upon more than once.

Parties in negotiations
However, nothing is assured, as IA only won 36.6 percent of the vote, compared to 29.4 percent for Siumut, the ruling party. 

The leaders of all the parties will now negotiate over the next couple of days – namely to see if IA is able to form a government. Its best bet, according to the Sermitsiaq newspaper, is the centrist party Naleraq, which received 12 percent of the vote.

Tellingly, perhaps, IA won the vast majority of votes available in southern Greenland, whose controversial mining project, Kvanefjeldet, proved to be one of the biggest talking points of the election. Naleraq was also opposed to Kvanefjeldet. 

Mine a telling factor
An estimated 15-20 percent of the world’s need for rare earths can be found in Kvanefjeldet, which is expected to create over 700 jobs and annually raise 1.5 billion kroner over the 37 years it will be in operation.

However, the likes of IA and Naleraq fear the mine will have a harmful environmental effect on their homeland.

Again ironically, the money from the mine could aid the left-wingers’ overall aim to become independent. 

But is Siumut beaten?
Certainly, Siumut does not sound beaten, as IA will need to secure 16 of the 31 mandates up for grabs in the Naalakkersiusut parliament. 

Its chair Erik Jensen, who blamed Kvanefjeldet for his party’s poor showing, congratulated Egede on the victory, but added: “Now we are excited about what the negotiations will bring in the coming days.”

Whatever happens, this should be the end of the road for premier Kim Kielsen, who lost his chairmanship of Siumut late last year, but continued to lead his country.

IA previously led the government from 2009 to 2013 – the only period since the 1970s when Siumut has not been in charge.