Researchers’ Blog

The globality of Greenland’s political turmoil

The globality of Greenland’s political turmoil

The Greenlandic Premier, Aleqa Hammond’s recent fall from power after she had used public funds for private purposes appears immediately to be a lesson (possibly also an instructive one to a not insignificant number of ‘Western’ countries) in how sensitive the question of cronyism is in Greenland. It reveals once again how quickly the gap can widen between political elites and a general population whose everyday struggles are quite material. This appears to be the main narrative in Greenland itself in the aftermath of the turmoil. The case is similar in Denmark, where Greenlandic politics continues its climb up the ladder of media attention in the wake of the extensive coverage of the potential resource boom, climate change –the global scramble for the Arctic more generally. Amidst the commonly preferred Danish narrative that uses any political turmoil in Greenland to lend its weight to suspicions over Greenland’s ability to rule itself, Aleqa Hammond’s fall is also a symptom of unease in Greenland over the postponement of what at times appeared to be an imminent resource boom. Hammond’s electoral platform of building not only Greenland’s distant future but also its immediate future on the expected resource boom has run into serious difficulties. In the Greenlandic parliament it was not least the issue of uranium extraction and export which already threatened the collapse of the government months ago. It is hard not to link Hammond’s mistake in making use of public funds for private purposes to the far more critical failure in delivering a platform to build an economic autonomous platform.

In this light Hammond’s fall is partially related to events far removed from Greenland. The falling demand for iron ore from China has contributed to the collapse of the shares of London Mining, whose mining activities also suffered as a consequence of the ebola outbreak in its main mining area of West Africa. What these unrelated yet clearly collectively influential events show is how impossible it is to think the local in isolation from the global and vice versa. The ebola outbreak, the highly emotionally charged issue of the ban on extraction of radio-active material, political leaders’ lack of judgement illustrate how contemporary Greenland’s very localised focus on nation-building through economic autonomy is conditioned by not only distant, unrelated – but also paradoxically irrelevant events.


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