Greenland elections: Left-wing opposition Inuit Ataqatigiit party wins snap vote

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By Euronews  with AP, DPA
Members of the IA (Inuit Ataqatigiit) party celebrate following Tuesday's exit poll results in Nuuk.
Members of the IA (Inuit Ataqatigiit) party celebrate following Tuesday's exit poll results in Nuuk.   -  Copyright  EMIL HELMS / RITZAU SCANPIX / AFP

The opposition Inuit Ataqatigiit (IA) party has won the early parliamentary elections in Greenland.

After votes were counted on Wednesday morning, the left-wing indigenous party made strong gains receiving 36.6 per cent of the votes, according to official figures.

The previous ruling Siumut (Forward) party - traditionally the strongest political force in Greenland - finished second with 29.4 per cent of the votes.

IA leader Múte Bourup Egede, 34, will be the first to try to form a new government, needing at least 16 of the 31 seats in the Inatsisartut parliament for a majority.

The snap election had been brought forward to 2021 after the previous coalition government of Kim Kielsen collapsed amid an internal power struggle. Kielsen was replaced as President of Greenland by Erik Jensen in late 2020.

Campaigning was also dominated by a dispute over a controversial mining project for the extraction of uranium and rare earth.

The debate over whether international companies should be allowed to mine in Greenland led the centre-right Democrats to pull out of the coalition.

IA had opposed the project at Kvanefjeld in the south of the Arctic island and has maintained a strong environmental focus.

Supporters see the Kvanefjeld mine project as a potential source of jobs and prosperity, strengthening Greenland's economy.

While Greenland has its own government and Parliament, the semi-autonomous region relies on Denmark for defence, foreign, and monetary policies.

But although Kielsen had pushed to allow the mine owner Greenland Minerals to start operations, her replacement Jensen was more hesitant to grant an outright license.

According to the US Geological Survey, the sparsely inhabited island has the world's largest undeveloped deposits of rare-earth metals.

These materials are used worldwide in a variety of products including smartphones, wind turbines, microchips, batteries for electric cars, and weapons systems.

In 2019, former US President Donald Trump privately discussed the idea of purchasing Greenland from Denmark in a bid to expand American territory.

The suggestion was met with uproar in Copenhagen and dismissed by Danish authorities.

International interest in Greenland has continued as major powers, including China and Russia, are racing to establish their presence in the Arctic Circle.