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Issue # 1417      1 July 2009

Greenland left secures poll victory

The left-wing Inuit Ataqatigiit party has won parliamentary elections in Greenland, ousting the long-governing social democrats.

Inuit Ataqatigiit (IA), which means Community of the People, took 43.7 percent of the vote - doubling its standing in the last election in 2005.

The ruling Siumut party won only 26.5 percent of votes – 3.9 per cent less than the last election.

Addressing celebrating supporters in Nuuk, IA leader Kuupik Kleist said: “Greenland deserves this. Now we can lead this country forward into a new era.” Prime Minister Hans Enoksen called the snap election after Greenlanders decided in a November referendum to loosen ties with Denmark, which has controlled the island since the 18th century.

The next government will be the first to lead the semi-autonomous territory under an expanded home rule agreement that takes effect on June 21.

The new arrangement will make Greenlandic, an Inuit tongue, the official language and gradually shift control over the local police force, courts and the coastguard to Greenland’s government.

The plan also sets out new rules for splitting potential oil revenue with Denmark – a key issue in a region where new natural resources could be exposed by melting sea ice and glaciers.

Copenhagen, whose subsidies account for two-thirds of the island’s economy, will still control defence and foreign policy and Danish monarch Queen Margrethe remains the head of state.

More than 70 percent of the 40,000 eligible voters turned out for the election, which was dominated by allegations of nepotism and misuse of public funds.

Several politicians, including top Siumut members, have been found guilty of trousering public money.

Greenland became a colony of Denmark in 1775 and was a Danish province from 1953 until 1979, when it was granted home rule.

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