Greenlanders vote in first female leader | News | DW | 13.03.2013
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Greenlanders vote in first female leader

Greenland voters cautious about allowing entry to foreign miners have opted for the opposition Siumit party. Its leader, Aleqa Hammond, looks set to become the Arctic nation's first female prime minister.

The national KNR broadcaster reported Hammond's social democratic Siumit party had gained 42.8 percent, or 14 seats in the 31-seat parliament, in Tuesday's poll which saw voter turnout at 74 percent.

Hammond said she was open-minded about finding coalition partners to secure the 16 seats needed for a majority.

"I am very, very happy. I am thrilled as party leader," said Hammond, 47. "I am glad that Siumut is back."

Social democratic Siumit elected

Incumbent Greenland Prime Minister Kuupik Kleist, who was accused by traditional Inuits of embracing foreign investors and imported labor, conceded defeat early Wednesday.

Kleist's left-leaning Ataqatigiit party lost 9 percent to finish on 34.4 percent.

"The defeat can be explained by the necessary decisions we have made," Kleist told the Greenland newspaper Sermitsiaq.

He also told KNR that the result was a "slap in the face."

He blamed his party's loss of popularity on his government's attempts to make fisheries more effective and the raising of rental prices to fund renovations.

The conservative Atassut party came third while the newly-formed Inuit Party, which wants a stronger role for the Inuit language, came fourth.

Mixed opinions on mining

Greenlanders, who rely on fishing revenues, favor mining to some extent to reduce the island's dependency on Danish subsidies, but question the prospect of industry bringing in thousands of migrant laborers. Danish subsidies to Greenland amount to 428 million euros ($558 million) a year.

One of Greenland's most controversial projects is a proposal by Britain-based London Mining Plc to mine iron ore near the Greenland capital of Nuuk for export to China.

Premier-in-waiting Hammond has pledged to revise a law that critics said would have allowed large companies to bring in cheap labor.

ipj/jlw (Reuters, dpa)