Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Referendum Time...

While a referendum on further powers is very much part of the political debate in Wales, it’s going a little further in Greenland, who vote today on a greater level of autonomy.

Colonised in 1721, the island gained basic self-determination in 1979 from Denmark, except in defence and foreign policy and, according to polls, is expected to vote in favour.

The stimulus is the possibility of extracting large amounts of oil from Greenland’s waters – with the US Geological Survey estimating around 31.4 billion barrels of oil.

The new contract between Greenland and Denmark would see them share the profits; Greenland taking the first 10 million Euro and then taking a 50 per cent cut up until 430 million Euro – matching the subsidies that Greenland receives from Denmark under the current system.

I don’t know enough about the Greenland situation to discuss parallels in any depth, but some of the arguments and attitudes seem similar to what happens in Wales.

These attitudes vary between those who see Tuesday’s vote and the oil issue as being a step towards independence, those who think that this level of devolution will be the most successful form of governance for the island, and, it seems as always, those who think that being in charge of your own affairs is a poor idea.

Small in population and a long way from the government in Copenhagen, the results and consequences for Greenlanders will be very interesting.

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