Multilevel democracy in complex societies: The entanglement of indigenous and modern values inthe struggle for parliamentary democracy in Greenland

Activity: Talk or presentation typesLecture and oral contribution

Uffe Jakobsen - Speaker

In Greenland citizens apparently struggle against the current style of parliamentarism, including bloc politics and non-responsive political parties, and demand democratic change. Greenland was a Danish colony when absolutist rule ended in Denmark in 1848, but Greenland was not part of the deliberations that in 1849 led to the first free constitution in Denmark, neither was Greenland mentioned in the constitution, and Greenland was not represented when the first parliament was elected. Half a century later, after the victory in the struggle for parliamentary democracy in Denmark in 1901, provincial councils were elected in Greenland, however, only with advisory power to the government in Copenhagen. With the revision of the Danish constitution in 1953 the colonial status of Greenland was lifted and Greenland was integrated in Denmark. In 1979 home rule was introduced and parliamentary democracy with political parties and electoral participation etc. steadily developed. However, the lifting of the ban on mining of uranium in 2013 by a one-vote majority in the Greenland parliament led the parliamentary opposition to accuse the government of an unparliamentary style of governance, and ordinary citizens to turn to participatory activities in the form of establishing NGOs, arranging town hall meetings, organizing protest demonstrations, using social media etc. After an investigation of the history of the concept of democracy and political participation, and an overview of the historical development of different forms of political participation, the paper critically evaluates this participatory turn and analyses which conceptions of democracy inform this potential ‘new democracy’ in Greenland. Is it a matter of growing complexity in a traditional indigenous society where units of the “authorities” and “the people” no longer are applicable, since different values are promoted among the citizens and since many centres of decision-making are developing in the fight for making use of natural resources, including uranium, as a leverage for promoting political independence from Denmark, while the Danish government is struggling for defining uranium mining as a security issue and maintaining its prerogative of security policy and, thus, contributing to making Greenland a case of an even more complex system of multilevel governance.
18 Sep 2015

Event (Conference)

Title18th Annual Conference of the History of Concepts Group
LocationWest University of Timosoara

ID: 154193879