Greenland: The dirty tricks campaign that tried to stop an Indigenous ecosocialist party’s electoral victory

Mute Bourup Egede. Photo: Inuit Ataqatigiit

Three months ago, Green Left on the election victory of Inuit Ataqatigiit (IA), an Indigenous ecosocialist party in Greenland, an autonomous territory of Denmark.

The election win came on the back of IA’s strong community campaign against a uranium and rare earths mining project proposed by an Australian company, Greenland Minerals Ltd (GML).

Now, a major scandal has erupted about a false story planted by the Danish-owned television station TV2 on the eve of the April 4 snap election.

Just four days before the election, TV2 ran a story alleging that IA leader — now Greenland’s PM — Múte Bourup Egede was criminally corrupt and had abused his power when he served as a cabinet member several years ago. TV2 commands 47% of the Danish television audience and the false story was repeated by other Danish news media.

This dirty trick failed to stop IA from winning the election and now the government, led by Egede, has tabled a bill to restore a ban on uranium mining, which had been lifted by the previous conservative Greenland government.

While TV2 subsequently admitted that the story was false and apologised to Egede, it has not revealed the source of the story. However, on June 24, Danish newspaper revealed that the false story was based on an 11-page press briefing, whose origin is still undisclosed.

Berlingske also revealed that the story was forced through to the public by TV2’s news director despite objections by some of her employees that it did not meet their normal journalist procedures.

TV2’s news director, who previously worked as a political spin doctor for an earlier Danish government administration, resigned following this report.

Niels Henrik Hooge from Danish Friends of the Earth (NOAH) told GL that environmental activists in Denmark have strong suspicions that mining interests are behind the slanderous story about Egede.

When Berlingske asked GML to comment on the case, the company responded in writing, denying it had anything to do with the story.

The government of Greenland and several Danish parties, including the Socialist People’s Party, the Red-Green Alliance and the Christian Democrats have asked the same question.

Søren Søndergaard from the Red-Green Alliance told GL that he put a question in Danish parliament to the minister of culture on June 11, demanding TV2 give an official statement to the parliament about what happened.

“If this statement from TV2 is not satisfactory, I will call for an independent investigation. It’s a very serious matter that TV2 has interfered in the Greenlandic election in order to discredit a candidate.”

Hooge said he hopes GML will be thoroughly investigated by the authorities and the outcome of the investigation made public.

“Back in 2013, NOAH, other Greenlandic and Danish NGOs, as well as MPs from Greenland and Denmark, asked for GML to be investigated by the government because of the company’s owners’ alleged ties to organised crime in Australia and financing of terrorist activities in Somalia, Hooge said.

“The same question was asked both in the Greenlandic and the Danish Parliaments, but to no avail.

“In 2020, we again called on the government to investigate GML after it had further compromised itself on several occasions.

“According to some sources, GML may even have been involved in the process that led to the Trump administration's offer to .”