Voting ends in parliamentary elections in Greenland | All media content | DW | 13.03.2013
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Voting ends in parliamentary elections in Greenland

Voters in Denmark's semi-autonomous territory, Greenland, braved snow and ice to elect for a new parliament. Mining of precious rare earths and foreign investment were key issues throughout the campaign.

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40,000 Greenlanders were eligible to vote and voter turnout was high despite freezing temperatures.

The issue of how to handle potentially vast mineral resources was the key issue in Tuesday’s vote, as the territory’s economy is feeling the pressure of caring for an ageing population.

Politicians from all sides of the political spectrum see the development of a mining industry as a key to solving economic problems.

But developing such an industry would require inviting thousands of guest workers, which is a sensitive topic among the population of 57,000.

The outcome of the election to the 31-seat parliament will decide whether Premier Kuupik Kleist and his leftwing Inuit Ataqatigiit (IA) coalition get replaced by his challenger Alega Hammond and her Social Democrats.

Kleist wants to encourage foreign investment to build up a mining industry, but maintain a restrictive policy on mining radioactive materials, which are a by-product in the process of extracting rare earth metals.

He  recently pushed through legislation known as the "Large-Scale" law which gives special rights to foreign companies investing more than five billion kroner (670 million euros, $873 million) in big mining projects.

Alega Hammond, who campaigned to become the territory’s first female prime minister, wants to tap all mineral deposits even if they contain uranium.

Many Greenlanders would like to use the resources as a way to reduce dependency on Denmark, which currently subsidizes two-thirds of the territory’s economy.

Election results are expected later on Wednesday.

rg/lw (AFP, AP)