Greenlanders elect first woman MP

A 25-year old woman from Nuuk was Greenland’s top vote-getter in Mar. 11 elections.


IQALUIT — For the first time in its history, Greenland is represented in the Danish parliament by a woman.

Ellen Kristensen, 25, of Nuuk, won more votes than any other candidate for the Atassut party, taking the party’s seat away from political veteran, Otto Steenholdt, 61.

Kristensen becomes one of two people who will fill Greenland’s two seats in the 179-seat Danish legislature. The other member is Hans-Pavia Rosing of the Siumut party

“My victory is an indicator that voters felt the need for a shift in generations within the party,” Kristensen, said to a Danish journalist last week. She said she believes she received many votes from young voters and women.

“And I know from many of them — especially women — that they voted for me, even though they normally voted for a different party,” said Ellen Kristensen to Politiken.

With 4,011 votes, she stood first among all Greenlandic candidates. Under Denmark’s complex system of proportional representation, voters cast ballots twice: one for a political party, and the other for a candidate representing that political party.

With 8,569 votes, Kristensen’s party, Atassut, finished just behind the Siumut party, which took 8,646 votes.

Under Denmark’s voting rules, each of those political parties is therefore guaranteed a seat. The top candidate in each party normally fills those guaranteed seats.

Support from women

Kristensen’s political base has been Atassut’s youth organization, of which she has been the national leader for nearly a year. She also sits as a member of Nuuk’s municipal council, to which she was elected last year.

She’ll likely give up that position when she moves to Denmark later this year to begin her new job.

Kristensen, who is trained in business and office administration, will also have to give up her sales job at Tele Greenland, Greenland’s telecommunication’s company.

“One of my main issues is that there must be more information on the political work getting out to the people. A lack of information generates a lack of trust,” Kristensen says.

More education needed

Other Greenland-Denmark issues are Greenland’s block funding arrangement, negotiations on mineral rights between Denmark and Greenland, and free access for Greenlanders to Danish education and training.

“It is important that more Greenlanders become well-educated, and it is necessary, before we can begin to talk about self-rule,” she said.

Since 1980, Greenland’s mostly Inuit population have enjoyed a form of self-government called “home rule.”

Kristensen is also a strong believer in sexual equality.

“During the campaign I didn’t suggest that people should vote for me because I am a woman. But equality is important and women are really coming into their own in Greenlandic politics. For example, in the municipal election in Nuuk last year for the first time we had a majority of women, with nine women out of a total 17 members.”

Like her predecessor, Kristensen will support the Venstre — or Liberal — party in the Danish parliament.

Editor’s note: The quotes and much of the information in this story came from an article by Inge Methling that first appeared in the Danish language Politiken Weekly. Hugh Lloyd kindly provided a loose translation for us.

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