Kim Kielsen’s position as country chairman is under threat
Photo of National Chairman Kim Kielsen taken from his New Year’s speech
A majority of Inatsisartut’s Siumut group in a press release late Monday demanded Naalakkersuisut chairman Kim Kielsen step down. This is what the Greenlandic newspaper Sermitsiaq writes early Tuesday morning.
Seven members of the Greenland Parliament in a press release thirsday morning have stated that they have lost their confidence in Kim Kielsen, the chairman of the Greenlandic Self Rule Government. Kim Kielsen is the chairman of one of Greenland’s major parties, Siumut. More than two months ago, seven parliamentarians sent a letter to Kielsen urging him to be more open and involve them more closely in the political decision-making process.
– “Siumut has been in a very difficult situation for the last longer period. The President has shown disrespectful behavior towards Inatsisartut members and not least the voters, as he has no will to listen. It’s not sustainable, they say in a press release. “
The seven parliamentarians are urging Kielsen to resign, both as the country’s chairman and party chairman. The party group in parliament, including Kielsen itself, consists of ten members. Thus, a majority in Kielsen’s own party group apparently demands his departure.
The reason for the dramatic announcement is that more than two months ago, the seven MPs sent a letter asking Kielsen to become more involved in the political decision-making process. They asked for a meeting aimed at improving cooperation in the party group of the Greenlandic parliament, Inatsisartut.
Fish and whale quotas
In Sermitsiaq, the Greenlandic newspaper, writes:
“The following promises were cited as examples in the letter:
On December 6, 2018, Naalakkersuisut chose to raise the halibut quota of 2,035 tonnes. The entire additional quota was allocated to Royal Greenland, although the Naalakkersuisut Coalition Agreement of 2017 stipulates that Naalakkersuisut will prioritize local fishermen and that Naalakkersuisut will prioritize young people who will start a fishing industry.
The Naalakkersuisut set a quota on narwhales on January 10, 2019. However, when the quota was quickly used up, several politicians demanded that the Naalakkersuisut give extra quotas to prisoners, which Naalakkersuisut rejected. During a Question Time on May 29, 2019, the President of Naalakkersuisut stated that the quota for narwhal should not be raised. Despite the fact that they appear in the coalition agreement, the decision is that the quotas must be allocated for the benefit of business and leisure prisoners.
Several paragraph 37 responses from Naalakkersuisut contradict the Siumut’s policy on several points. This we cannot pretend we do not see.
Siumut – the party with support up and down the coast – outside Nuuk
Kim Kielsen’s government is a coalition between the big Siumut and the small party Nunatta Qitornai. Finance Minister Vittus Qujaukitsoq comes from the small party. He left Siumut in a conflict a few years ago. The party has only one mandate in the Greenlandic Parliament. In the Parliament, Inatsisartut, he is replaced by former chairman of the government Aleqa Hammond. There is a tradition in Greenland’s autonomy that ministers (“naalakkersuisoq”) can be replaced by a deputy in parliament. The Greenlandic government consists of eight members, seven of whom come from Siumut.
There is no doubt that Kielsen’s position is threatened by the clear protest. However, there is no full automaticity, which means that he just has to get off automatically. There are several reasons for this. First, nobody knows the real support for Kim Kielsen in Siumut. To understand Greenland’s party politics, a party like Siumut is dependent on a very large support in the background. Siumut is slightly larger than Greenland’s other large party IA. Where IA has its backing in the capital Nuuk, support for Siumut comes mainly from towns and settlements on Greenland’s west coast North and South of Nuuk.
The calculus is made more difficult by the fact that many of the ministers are elected members of Parliament Inatsisartut. While the government is seated, there are some among the protesting MPs whose stools will falter if the government resigns.
The protests must be understood as a desire for the government to continue with a new Siumut government chairman without the government’s resigning. But this is riscy businiess.
In theory, the process initiated may well end up with the seven protesters getting their will. But it may as well end in a change of government or perhaps as likely – as sometimes seen in Greenlandic politics for nothing.
Minority government with support from other parties
Minority government: What about the other parties supporting Kielsen?
The Self Rule Government is a minority government. The Parliament Inatsisartut has 31 members. In Denmark, the new minority government has as its basis a “paper of understanding”. Since the last election in Greenland, the government of self-government has changed a few times. You could say it in the way that the backing of the government may look somewhat faltering; but it has happened before that it succeeds in keeping the balance.
Much depends on how the other parties view the parliamentary situation. The coalition agreement with some parties – Atassut and Nunatta Qitornai do not have a majority. They miss another three mandates.
It therefore becomes an art for Siumut to keep his tongue straight in his mouth. On the one hand, the internal party dispute must be resolved, and on the other, support must be secured for the party’s chairman or wife for the future.
Kim Kielsen’s position is seriously under threat. There can be no doubt about that.
Is Kielsen coming to Copenhagen to meet Trump?
President Trump is going to visit Copenhagen, Denmark in the beginning of september. A main issue is to discuss
Greenland (Greenland is still under some sort of Danish control as Overseas Territory) and the growing tension in the Arctic. This day, we don’t know who is going to represent Greenland at this meeting. The actual uncertainty is – seen is this context – really bad timing.
What is going to happen – who knows?
No one can, on the basis of the mistrust of seven Sium members, obliquely promise that Kim Kielsen will continue to be Self-President when President Trump comes to Denmark to discuss Greenland with the Danish government and Greenland’s self-government. Maybe he will still be in the seat.