Socialist landslide in the Arctic


On the grounds that a small advance in a remote place is better than no advance at all, let’s pause for a moment to tip our hats to Greenland’s pro-independence socialists, who have just scored a stunning victory:

The leftist Inuit Ataqatigiit (Eskimo Brotherhood) party received 43.7 percent of votes in an early election held on Tuesday, nearly double that share it had in a 2005 vote. The ruling social democrat party, Siumut (Forward), got 26.5 percent.

Talks on forming a new government on the sparsely populated Arctic island, four fifths of which is covered with ice but which is rich in minerals, were expected to begin on Wednesday.

Prime Minister Hans Enoksen had called for the vote, saying Greenland’s government should have a fresh mandate ahead of June 21, when expanded home rule becomes effective.

Yes, that would be referring to the referendum on expanded self-government last year, which managed to secure a three-to-one Yes vote, much to the surprise of many otherwise right-on Danes, who still have trouble with the idea that seal-eating, snowshoe-wearing Esquimaux might be able to rule themselves. The Greenlanders, though, having had home rule for thirty years and figuring that mineral wealth might stand them in good stead in the future, have different ideas.

But, while independence is on the agenda – and Copenhagen has been facing similar rumblings from the Faroe Islands too for some time now – it’s not the only issue. Siumut too are pro-independence, but they’ve also been in power uninterruptedly for thirty years and have recently been shaken by, as Siegfried Thielbeer nicely sums it up, “corruption and sex scandals, wide-ranging nepotism and self-serving actions. The election winner Kuupik Kleist spoke of bridging the increasing gap between rich and poor, and dealing with Greenland’s chronic problems of alcoholism, drug addiction and child abuse.”

Therefore it’s IA who have benefited from the anti-incumbency factor. Reinhard Wolff writes in the taz about how they had also tapped into public anger about the ruling social democratic-liberal coalition’s handling of public services. IA don’t go in much these days for the stentorian Marxist-Leninist rhetoric they favoured in the 70s and 80s, but it’s still an excellent result for a party that retains a strongly leftwing and anti-imperialist profile, combined by all accounts with many years’ hard work at practical day-to-day politics. And this has finally paid off, as they’ve established a strong plurality of the popular vote, while doubling their representation from 7 to 14 in the 31-seat parliament.

When you’re not used to the left making much progress at all, it’s a nice story to cheer you up. Three cheers for our Inuit friends, and let’s hope some European leftists can make a bit of headway in the next few days.


  1. Tony Rock said,

    June 4, 2009 at 1:13 am

    It’s only a matter of moments before the SWP honchos declare this to be evidence of a new world-wide working class upsurge.

  2. June 4, 2009 at 2:18 pm

    would be interesting to know, how the new government will deal with the US air base in Avanersuaq

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