Something to think about?
To be hopeful is a very human thing. I am hopeful of a new beginning after the election, even though I am also worried about the future.
I am hopeful that some of the young or new politicians will be elected to our Parliament (Inatsisartut) November 28th. I have witnessed quite a few televised debates in the election campaign now, and I have noticed that there is a new breed of politicians on the rise in Greenland. Nive Olsen and Aviaaja Neumann Sinkbæk (Both represent the Democrats), Per Rosing (Naleraq), Karen Motzfeldt & Julie Rademacher (both from Siumut), Aaja Chemnitz Larsen and Mûte Bourup Egede(both from IA) who all represent a new style and flavour.
They are perhaps not skilled politicians, but they have a more holistic view on solutions and the ability to work out a compromise. This is promising if they get elected.
On the other hand there is also quite a big bunch of politicians who are like a broken record: the same tune as I have heard before.
So what will it take for me to go one step further and be happy after an election?
First of all I hope that the leaders of the political parties will be mature enough to place their ego’s outside the door when the coalition agreement have to be made. And I hope that they will have the courage to involve a skilled (or a few) mediator to guide them. How come, you might ask?
Our country face great challenges - on the economical side, on the social arena, on the educational area and in regards to our community spirit.
There is an imminent need of reforms, which will not be taken lightly in the eyes of the population. Serious change is needed, and there is a need of explaining why.
Change processes are hard for most people and we are no different in Greenland, so we have a need to debate the need for reform - and involve the population in this debate.
One of the things I have noticed over the past three, four or five years is the willingness to debate publicly. We have also discussed topics at kaffemik (festive gatherings), but not much out in the open. This is changing. Now quite a lot of people debate on www.sermitsiaq.ag on www.knr.gl and in a political discussion forum on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/groups/129100667273522/
This shows a new trend in Greenland where more and more debate happens through social media with a different logic attached. This is in many ways a game changer in politics in Greenland.
So I am hopeful that more people in Greenland will participate actively in the political life in our country. And I am somewhat hopeful of our future.
The election campaign is well under way and all the parties have publicly announced their full list of candidates. But some things have not changed from other election campaigns. The promises are many - and very few specifics regarding solutions have been introduced. First of is the former majority coalition partner, Siumut which have made a number of topics their focus areas in the election. Some are old relics, but nonetheless still valid topics.
Unemployment, education, reform of public benefits, pensions, housing and commerce. Basically nothing new under the sun.
What worries me is the fact that there are no solutions attached to the topics - and no priorities as to what is not to be prioritized. All the things mentioned will cost money (apart from reform of public benefits, I guess), and so far I have not heard one single idea where the money is supposed to come from.
Yes, arguably there is talk about more fishery, more mining, more tourism. But I do not see tonnes of cash suddenly flowing into Greenland.
There is no mention of public sector reform, public spending in general, the heavy economic subsidies given the fishery inside the coastal zone and other reforms that can really move cash around in the Greenlandic economy.
So I think it is a lot of warm air and not very specific. But again this is also nothing new. I just hope that the voter community will challenge these hot air topics and ask the politicians to be more specific in the campaign and voter meetings.
Transparency - a future necessity?
When you look at our recent history it has been a long sad story about nepotism, misuse of funds and lack of transparency in decision making processes, which has crippled our country and made a large part of the population skeptical about the politicians, the political parties and the public administration. In my view we can easily implement some simple guidelines - that Transparency Greenland have already made - in public sector and political processes. This will give the population an insight into both how decisions are made - and why.
So let me start with the why! Why is it important with transparency in a small country like Greenland? Because we are a relatively small number of people in Greenland there is also a small group of people making the big decisions on behalf of the society, which in itself does not pose a problem if the morals, integrity and ethical standards are high. Unfortunately we have case in Greenland that show the opposite, where we have had numerous incidents with problematic behavior among the power elite in political office or/and public administration.
The how is equally important. How do we give better insight to the population in Greenland about how decisions are being made and accept the questions that come along with that. And the how is also about giving access to the reasons behind making a decision, so it is possible to have a discussion about the direction of the country. Usually you are able to explain why you make a decision if the facts or direction is in place. So often I have experienced that major decisions have been made without any good reasoning, any facts or any level of insights by central people. In other words: explaining about the "why" will give the public a better understanding of central parts of the policies and decisions being made on their behalf.
So how do you tackle nepotism, transparency and corruption in a small country?
Here are some specific advice on just that - and some advice we can implement tomorrow in Greenland:
1) make a decision of transparency in all of public administration from top management to the lowest level and implement it. This means that the individual can ask questions and be able to answer specific questions in their area of expertise. In other words you accept that top management does not decide which material can be publicly discussed or given insight into. Total transparency will strengthen the need for good decision making processes.
2) make a decision that all of public sector, publicly owned companies and political parties have to have a anti corruption policy and make sure it is enforced.
3) have a clear policy for hiring staff, no matter what position we are talking about. Have HR be the central hiring part to ensure transparency and disqualification standards.
4) remove the political influence into decision making processes in the Self Rule and publicly owned companies to separate political party influence and day-to-day business operation. Today the administration does not have a lot of power to sustain the political influence in the daily operation. The top administrative staff have to be apolitical in order to sustain longterm solutions, which is not the case today.
The election campaign is running full speed ahead and I am getting more and more worried about how a future coalition will look like - and what priorities it will have.
So far there has been an abundance of promises that are not financed and no answer to how the solutions will be implemented. A lot of fine words and no action!
When I look back just a few months and think about the uproar a huge part of the population had due to mismanagement, arrogance of power and misuse of funds, then it sure does not show very much in the election campaign.
A few facts that have barely been touched so far in the election is the budget. And more worrying: the enormous deficit that have already been established for 2014.
Originally the planned deficit in 2014 was to be app. 60 mio dkk on the day-to-day budget, which have been raised to app. 130 mio dkk not long ago. But somehow I do not believe even that figure to hold up. This was based on income from mackerel fishing, taxation of new projects and a status quo in the economy. Now I believe the outlook looks even more grim.
My best guess is that the deficit in 2014 will surpass 200 mio dkk with an impact on next years budget (estimated to a deficit of 150 mio dkk for 2015).
What does that mean?
It means that no matter what political parties that will form a coalition after the election, then they will start with a HUGE deficit on the day-to-day budget. And that will be the first agenda to tackle after the election - and not a bunch of new unrealistic, unfinanced and fluffy election promises. How come nobody brings this agenda on the table in the election campaign?
Siumut, which has been the leading party for almost 35 years, are the worst to promise new, unfinanced projects. New airport in the South of Greenland, new pension reform, bigger employment deduction and multiple other costly suggestions.
I am worried about the situation in our country. I can see with my own eyes that the economy is dipping and that the Municipalities are struggling to keep up with unemployment (all time high under the last Government), huge social issues, a growing children catastrophe and at the same time a booming budget for the Home Rule administration. It simply does not add up. Somehow we need a bold, talented and experienced Government after the election that can deal with all the issues at hand. And frankly I do not see that happening right now.
My best guess is that the new Government will be very, very unpopular from the beginning to the end of the coming term. All the fancy election bullshit will have to be replaced by sinister measures that will hit a big portion of the population.
So just as a known politician from the US once said: “It is the economy, stupid!”