Greenland seeks new government as ruling coalition collapses

Greenland was scrambling to form a new government on Monday after its ruling coalition fell apart due to differences over the funding of a planned upgrade of the autonomous Danish territory's airports.

Greenland seeks new government as ruling coalition collapses
Prime Minister Kim Kielsen (L) with Danish PM Lars Løkke Rasmussen in Nuuk on Monday. Photo: Christian Klindt Sølbeck/Ritzau Scanpix

The four-month-old coalition, led by the Social Democratic Siumut party of Prime Minister Kim Kielsen, lost its parliamentary majority when the left-wing pro-independence party, Naleraq, quit in protest over Copenhagen's direct financial participation in the project.

Naleraq's departure left Kielsen three seats short of a majority in Greenland's 31-seat parliament.

With Denmark's Prime Minister Lars Løkke Rasmussen currently on a visit to the world's largest island, the pro-independence party accused Kielsen of conducting the negotiations without it.

Denmark's aim, in wanting to partly fund the infrastructure projects, was to prevent Greenland's government from having to turn to China's state-owned China Communications Construction Company (CCCC) as a possible partner and investor, said Mikaa Mered, professor for polar economics and geopolitics at the ILERI institute in Paris.

“The implosion of the government comes as no surprise. It just happened earlier than expected, barely four months after the election,” Mered said.

Nevertheless, the coalition's collapse did not mean that new elections would automatically have to be held.

Siumut could seek the support of the socialist Inuit Ataqatigiit, with which it had shared power in the previous administration between 2014 and 2018, the expert said.

At the end of April, Siumut narrowly beat Inuit Ataqatigiit, and they failed to form a coalition over differences on fishing — which accounts for 90 percent of Greenland's exports.

Instead, Siumut formed a coalition with Naleraq and two other parties, Atassut and Nunatta Qitornai.

Plagued by financial and social woes, Greenland with about 56,000 people receives an annual grant of around 3.6 billion Danish kroner (453 million euros) from Copenhagen.

READ ALSO: Big parties lose vote share in Greenland poll


Greenland passes law banning uranium mining

Greenland's parliament voted Tuesday to ban uranium mining and exploration in the vast Danish territory, following through on a campaign promise from the ruling left-wing party which was elected earlier this year.

Greenland's parliament voted on November 9th to ban uranium mining. Prime Minister Mute Egede, pictured, said earlier this month he wanted to join the Paris climate agreement.
Greenland's parliament voted on November 9th to ban uranium mining. Prime Minister Mute Egede, pictured, said earlier this month he wanted to join the Paris climate agreement. File photo: Emil Helms/Ritzau Scanpix

The Inuit Ataqatigiit (IA) party won snap elections in April that were originally triggered by divisions over a controversial uranium and rare earth mining project.

The IA won 12 seats in the 31-seat Greenlandic national assembly, beating its rival Siumut, a social democratic party that had dominated politics in the island territory since it gained autonomy in 1979.

On Tuesday 12 MPs in the national assembly voted to ban uranium mining, with nine voting against. 

The IA had campaigned against exploiting the Kuannersuit deposit, which is located in fjords in the island’s south and is considered one of the world’s richest in uranium and rare earth minerals.

The project, led by the Chinese-owned Australian group Greenland Minerals, has not yet been officially abandoned.

But French group Orano announced in May it would not launch exploration despite holding permits to do so.

The massive natural riches of the vast island — measuring two million square kilometres, making it larger than Mexico — have been eyed by many, but few projects have been approved.

The island is currently home to two mines: one for anorthosite, whose deposits contain titanium, and one for rubies and pink sapphires.

While Greenland’s local government is not opposed to all mining activities, it has also banned all oil exploration over concerns for the climate and the environment.

Earlier this month Prime Minister Mute Egede said he wanted to join the Paris climate agreement, which Greenland is one of the few countries not to have ratified.

READ ALSO: Greenland seabed scoured for marine diamonds