Greenland’s parliament will set a date for its next election on March 13, though campaigning has already begun.

The last election was in 2014 when the Siumut party won more than one third of the votes. That year Kim Kielsen became prime minister when Aleqa Hammond was forced to resign over a scandal involving spending of public money on hotels and flights.

Greenland is a self-ruling country within the Kingdom of Denmark and has a population of about 56,000 people.

Aside from its defence and security, the island gained self-government in 2009, after 76 per cent of voters voted in favour of self-rule in a referendum. Since then, most politicians have aimed for growing autonomy and eventual independence from Denmark.

Most candidates want independence

Suinni Fleischer Johansen, a candidate for the Siumut party, says all the established parties agree that independence is the goal, but disagree about the process.

“Some want it tomorrow, some want to prepare,” Johansen said, adding that there is also discussion about whether to become independent and stay within the Kingdom of Denmark or whether to become a republic.

Suinni Fleischer Johansen

Suinni Fleischer Johansen is a candidate for the Siumut party. (Submitted by Suinni Fleischer Johansen)

He says Greenland wants independence so it can act on its own, instead of through Denmark, on the international stage. For example, he says he would like to forge stronger relationships with Inuit societies around the world.

For that reason, Johansen says he would like to see English become the accepted second language after Inuktitut, instead of the third language after Inuktitut and Danish.

He’s campaigning on the idea that independence shouldn’t come right away.

“We risk keeping the narratives of dependence even if we proclaim independence,” Johansen said.

“I strongly believe that we should instead focus on improving our education rates and dismantling our narratives of dependence rather than proclaiming independence tomorrow and seeing what happens.” 

The country has tried to attract foreign investment into its vast untapped hydrocarbon and mineral resources but a lack of infrastructure and slow bureaucracy have limited development.

Greenland’s economy is largely dependent on its fishing industry. It receives an annual grant from Denmark of around 3.7 billion Danish crowns ($793.79 million), about a quarter of its GDP.

There are two dates being considered for the election, either April 17 or April 24.