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  Faroe Islands Parliamentary Election - September 1, 2015
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Author Topic: Faroe Islands Parliamentary Election - September 1, 2015  (Read 36913 times)
politicus
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« on: September 30, 2014, 12:44:25 pm »
« edited: August 12, 2015, 03:20:07 am by politicus »

The Faroe Islands will be holding an election to their parliament, the Løgting (Law Thing), on September 1 2015, which will give me an excuse to nerd about North Atlantic stuff.



Their party system is structured around two conflict lines a) pro-union with Denmark vs. pro-independence and b) the standard socio-economic one. Basically you have one big right wing and one big left wing on each side of the unionist/nationalist cleavage. In addition they have two small centrist separatist parties, one Social Liberal and one Social Conservative + a Libertarian party.

Unionist parties

The Union Party: The old pro-Danish party from the Agrarian Liberal Scandinavian tradition is today a broad tent and moderate centre-right party.

The Social Democrats (literally the Equality Party) is a moderate centre-left party, which argues that greater autonomy is only acceptable if it doesn't lead to worse living conditions for the socially disadvantaged.

Nationalist parties

The People's Party: Right wing conservative, nationalist party representing wealthy fishermen + trading and shipping interests.
 
The Home Rule Party (recently renamed New Self-Government): The original independence party from which the others have split off survives as a small social liberal party in the big ideological gap between the People's  Party and Republic.

Republic: Left wing, republican (duh) and nationalist party formed after Denmark ignored a yes vote in the 1946 independence referendum because the turnout was insufficient. Tends to prioritize the independence part over social justice when the two conflicts  - as they often do because cutting the 100 mio. $ grant from Denmark is next to impossible to do without reducing social welfare.

New separatist parties:

The Centre Party: Centrist, Christian Democratic/SoCon outfit for the fundis.

Progress: A small Libertarian party formed people who considered the People's Party too centrist on economics (you gotta be pretty right wing to think that..) and too old fashioned on social issues.

The current government is a broad coalition of three centre-right parties (Union Party, People's Party and the Centre Party, until autumn 2013 it also included the Home Rule Party) under Kaj Leo Johannesen from the Union Party. It's rather unusual for a Faroese government to include both PP and UP, which can be compared to a Fianna Fail/Fine Gael coalition in Ireland (so almost against the laws of nature Wink ).
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politicus
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« Reply #1 on: September 30, 2014, 02:22:24 pm »
« Edited: July 22, 2015, 11:44:11 am by politicus »

Union party afflies with V and PP with C?

Yes traditionally, the Union Party originated as a liberal farmers party, so the Liberals is their sister party, which left the People's Party no choice but to align with their conservative brethren in the Folketing if they wanted any influence, despite Danish Conservatives obviously being unionists. Nowadays the Faeroese autonomy is so great that the Folketing doesn't matter much for them, so PP is not in the Conservative group anymore when they are represented in the Folketing.
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Socio-economic scale

Left

Republic

Social Democrats
-------------------
Centre Party

Home Rule Party
Union Party

Peoples Party

Progress

Right


Union/independence scale


Separatism


Republic
Peoples Party/Progress

Home Rule Party

Centre Party
---------------
Social Democrats

Union Party


Unionism
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politicus
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« Reply #2 on: July 22, 2015, 02:17:47 am »
« Edited: July 22, 2015, 06:52:43 am by politicus »

Reposting this because the Union Party is split down the middle on whether Johannesen should stay on as leader and since he is a liability at this point this could be decisive. There is also a possibility that he will face a motion of no confidence when the Løgting reconvenes on July 29.

No polling since spring, but given the condemnation of Johannnesen and the result of the Folketing election the left is most likely still ahead. We should get a poll in early August.

Faroese PM Kaj Leo Johannesen (Union Party) deliberately misled the Lagting in a case regarding a tunnel between the two largest islands - according to a report by Ombudsman Hans Gammeltoft Hansen. No news of political consequences as the Lagting does not meet before July 29, but after a fairly bad Folketing election for Johannesen and with Lagting election on October 29 there seems to be growing pressure for him to step down. The current government has been behind in the polls for nearly a year now.

http://sermitsiaq.ag/undersoegelse-lagmanden-forsaetligt-vildledt-lagtinget
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politicus
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« Reply #3 on: July 22, 2015, 02:53:44 am »
« Edited: August 12, 2015, 02:07:28 am by politicus »

The issue most likely to interest (at least a few..) of our regulars is whether the Faroe Islands (the last holdout in Scandinavia) will finally get gay marriage after the election. With 62-68% of the voters in favour and most parties positive this should look like a done deal, but is in reality more complicated.

At the last vote in the Løgting on the issue in spring 2014 it was voted down 20-11 with 2 no-shows:


For:

Republic 6
Progress 1
4 SDs


Against:

Union Party 8
People's Party 8
Centre Party 2
2 SDs


No show:

1 former Progress MP who had joined PP
1 Home Rule Party


Kaj Leo Johannesen - who is personally in favour of civil gay marriage, but not of forcing the church to wed gay couples - had ordered his own party to vote against it - despite votes on ethical matters traditionally not being under the whip.
His official reason was merely that the government does not normally support opposition proposals, but in reality he did not want to risk a government exit from the Centre Party, which was a real risk because the proposal would likely have passed if Union Party MPs were allowed to vote freely. PP had done the same - which is why the (fairly Libertarian) ex-Progress guy stayed away from the vote.


The situation currently is:


Pro-gay marriage:

Republic, Progress and almost all of the Home Rule Party (the guy that stayed away from the poll was their then party leader, an elderly man who is not running for reelection).


Split:

SD has a few SoCons, but one of the MPs voting against has since joined the Union Party and it is unlikely that more than 1-2 of maybe 8 MPs in the new Løgting will be SoCons.

Union Party: Split, but likely with a solid pro-gay majority depending on who gets in. Party leadership would love to see the issue get settled, but may not be willing to initiate it themselves.


Against gay marriage:

Centre Party
People's Party (although there are a few Conservative Libertarians, who are for it)


A "red coalition" between Republic and SD who do it, last time the two parties were in coalition they had the Centre Party as a third partner. SD traditionally likes working with the Centre Party because it is the most centrist of the bourgeois parties and only very moderately separatist (not an issue the fundis care about), but given how gay marriage has been put on the agenda since 2012 I think it would be too toxic for them and Republic would likely not accept having CP as part of the government anyway. If they do not get a left wing majority they would probably prefer the Home Rule Party as partner despite its more right wing views on economics. In this case Union Party pro-gay MPs would secure a solid majority even if a few SD SoCons would vote against.

A broad coalition between SD and the Union Party (possibly including the Home Rule Party) might do it - or more likely send it to a referendum. Just to get the issue done with. Both parties leadership have a strong interest in settling the matter, so it is off the agenda.

Anything including the People's Party or Centre Party would rule it out, since neither of those parties are willing to compromise or risk a referendum.


Unlike Greenland, which is a diocese under the Danish church, the Faroe Islands have had their own independent Lutheran state church since 2007. It has plenty of SoCon ministers and forcing them to perform gay marriage - or splitting the church by allowing their colleagues to do it - would be out of the question for anyone but Republic.
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« Reply #4 on: July 29, 2015, 03:28:01 am »

Couldn't civil marriage be a thing, then ?
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politicus
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« Reply #5 on: July 29, 2015, 03:48:43 am »

Couldn't civil marriage be a thing, then ?

It is civil gay marriage that is on the agenda. That is what they voted on in 2014.
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giving birth to thunder
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« Reply #6 on: July 29, 2015, 04:58:53 am »

I was only familiar with this place after reading about the utterly repulsive grindadráp tradition there. Do any of the parties support banning that sick thing? Even just pictures of it look horrifying.
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politicus
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« Reply #7 on: July 29, 2015, 05:21:45 am »

I was only familiar with this place after reading about the utterly repulsive grindadráp tradition there. Do any of the parties support banning that sick thing? Even just pictures of it look horrifying.

Nah, that would be a huge electoral liability. It is popular and they view it as a humane way of killing the animals, which is just demonized by outsiders because it is a literal bloodbath, which sheltered city folks can not handle. And they have a point.
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politicus
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« Reply #8 on: July 29, 2015, 08:29:56 am »
« Edited: July 29, 2015, 09:39:35 am by politicus »

Kaj Leo Johannesen has just called it to be held on September 1. Trying to silence the critics in his own party and avoid a leadership challenge.

A selfish move since his party would likely have done quite a lot better without him, but it was the only weapon he had left. Half his party wanted him gone and if he had waited they would have found someone to run against him.

This election hasn't been polled since April and the Folketing result is useless in predicting the Løgting, since voters use different criteria, so it is anybody's guess who is ahead.

Johannesen used his speech at the opening of the Løgting on the Faroese national  day Ólavsøka (Olaf's Wake  - in memory of the death of the Norwegian King Olaf II (lSaint Olaf)'s death at the Battle of Stiklestad in 1030). So all very patriotic.
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politicus
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« Reply #9 on: July 29, 2015, 10:03:17 am »
« Edited: July 29, 2015, 10:26:55 am by politicus »

Their gay pride parade was on July 27. Too bad, I was hoping they would have it during the campaign. Wink

Pretty big thing nowadays. It has had up to 5 000 participants in a country with 49 000 people.



"Socialists for love" on this banner.

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« Reply #10 on: July 29, 2015, 11:53:28 am »

Yes, brtd these sort of things tend to be toxic to oppose. See also: the Newfoundland Greens support of the annual seal clubbing.
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politicus
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« Reply #11 on: July 29, 2015, 12:56:48 pm »
« Edited: July 29, 2015, 03:06:41 pm by politicus »

Even setting aside the thousand year old cultural tradition thing and only looking at it from a practical angle it is hard to argue against grindadrap without suggesting the population should go full scale vegetarian (unpopular and expensive in a country where you generally can not grow vegetables and fruit outside hothouses and all imports are expensive). With modern methods it takes on average 22 seconds for a pilot whale to die after it has been hooked. That is pretty quick and of course far quicker than it takes for a whale trapped in a fishing net to die. It is not an endangered species, so basically you are down to the stress of hunting. Which is less than the stress of an animal in an industrial slaughterhouse (not to mention the transport to the slaughterhouse).

If the Faroese did not kill pilot whales they would have to import industrially produced meat from animals treated worse. So it is one of those: "Become a vegetarian or shut up" things. With the caveat that there actually are poor people who can not really afford to become vegetarians on the Faroes.

Given that the meat is shared and benefit the poor and it is not a good case for the left (+ Republic are Faroese nationalists) and the right wing is naturally pro-tradition/national culture. The Self-Government Party with its Social Liberal and urban base might be the most likely to become critical, but again: They are the scions of a nationalist tradition.

Outlawing some less efficient methods would be the only thing politically realistic. They are being phased out anyway.

http://arcticjournal.com/opinion/1729/hypocrisy-its-whats-dinner

http://www.nammco.no/assets/Publications/Hunting-Methods-Committee/Final-Report-Export-Group-meeting-assessing-hunting-methods-for-small-cetacean.pdf
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politicus
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« Reply #12 on: July 29, 2015, 01:23:32 pm »

If there is a political potential in it will  be related to security, border control  and Sea Sheppard's Sleppið Grindini campaign, which continues to October.

Immigration and police are union matters, so the Faroese can not stop the activists, but rely on Danish authorities - but the Danish government (and opposition) has backed the Faroese and sent a couple of naval vessels up there among other things. I doubt the lack of Faroese control of the maritime borders and airport security can be politicized. Maybe if th activists commits violence of some sorts and the police can be blamed somehow.
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« Reply #13 on: July 29, 2015, 02:37:53 pm »

I love the irony in the anti-grindadráp campaign. The grindadráp is a example of a indigenous people hunting in traditional ways (except for improvements to inflict less pain on the animals), in sustainable manners and with a very small carbon foot print. The activists on the other waste large resources (and placew a large carbon foot print on the planet while doing it) trying to lower the life quality of the Faroese people and make them waste more resource to get food to the islands.
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politicus
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« Reply #14 on: July 30, 2015, 12:27:44 pm »
« Edited: September 01, 2015, 03:46:44 am by politicus »

Themes in this election:

Credibility. Did Kaj Leo Johannesen (and Kari Høygaard from the Home Rule Party) lie in tunnel-gate (this is the Faroes..), or were they just sloppy/misunderstood etc.?

The economy. The Faroes got a surplus on their public budget, but a recent report says they will need to improve the balance with 750 mio. Danish kroner a year to be able to fund their current level of welfare in the long run. This can probably not be done without a municipal reform. The Faroes have 30 municipalities, 3 hospitals and 48 public schools to a population of only 49,000. In 2012 voters said no to reduce this to 8 and closing the Southern hospital is unpopular as well. Given the Faroese geography and population distribution with many small, inaccesible and remote settlements this is a touchy subject, still there is no road to independence without doing it.

Fishing reform: Who gets what? Should the current quota system with free distribution of fishing quotas to established fishing families stay on (government), or should they be put on auction for the benefit of the public (opposition). Some people have become multi-millionaires by reselling their mackerel quotas, it is hard to keep foreign capital out and the system blocks new people (incl. youngs) from entering fishing. Fishing is still responsible for 97% of the islands export and the center of the economy.

Danish state grant. A Classic. The Faroes gets ca. 650 mio. Danish kroner a year (= 110 mio. $). The right wing separatists wants to lower it by cutting the public sector. The Union Party believes the Faroes should ask for more and the SDs think that the Faroese welfare state can not survive without it. Republic wants to roll it back gradually - but often have difficulty explaining where the money will come from. Except hoping to find enough oil Wink


Possible themes:

Grindadrap and border security. Unlikely, but a possibility if Things go bad. Should the Faroese get their own police force and coast guard? And how will they pay for it?

Syrian war refugees. Should the Faroe Islands take 1% of Danish refugees (proportional to share of population)? KLJ suggested it and got in trouble with his own right wing and PP - he had to

Gay marriage: Is it time to get it done? Should there be a referendum?

Population loss. Young people - especially women - staying in Denmark after finishing their education. Separatists claim it is because of the Faroese societ being so intervowen with the Danish.
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politicus
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« Reply #15 on: August 05, 2015, 07:10:38 pm »
« Edited: August 06, 2015, 07:18:38 am by politicus »

Bad day for KLJ yesterday..

In the last parliamentary assembly  before the official campaign starts the Løgting passed a motion that sharply criticized Kaj Leo Johannesen and former Minister of the Interior Kari Højgård from the Home Rule Party for lying to Parliament.

Republic and Progress then tried to further humiliate KLJ by demanding a vote of no confidence. 14 voted for it, 9 against and 10 blank. You need an outright majority to pass a vote of no confidence in the Løgting, so Johannesen can stay on as PM during the campaign, but the result is brutal.

Republic, SD and - ironically - Kari Højgaard voted for the motion. The chairman of the Peoples Party parliamentary group Jakup Mikkelsen joined the opposition and voted for the motion.

10 of 20 members of the governing coalition voted blank - including 3 Union Party MPs (among them deputy chairman Bardur Nielsen)  and 7 out of 9 MPs from the Peopless Party (incl. their party chairman Jørgen Niclasen).

Only 6 Union Party MPs, the 2 Centre Party MPs  and the Speaker Jógvan á Lakjuni from the Peoples Party supported Johannesen.

Even if the Union Party somehow manages to get a decent election (not sure how..) his position is clearly untenable.

Note: I had some wrong info about the exact distribution of votes, which is now corrected. The Centre Party supported Johannesen, but only one PP supported him, so it is even worse than I thought. PP and UP will not be able to govern together after this.
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« Reply #16 on: August 06, 2015, 01:49:44 am »

If the Union Party does poorly (looks pretty likely that they will?), which party is most likely to come out on top at this point?
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politicus
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« Reply #17 on: August 06, 2015, 03:32:25 am »
« Edited: August 06, 2015, 07:27:09 am by politicus »

If the Union Party does poorly (looks pretty likely that they will?), which party is most likely to come out on top at this point?

I think it is most likely that the Social Democrats will, they are unionist and can pick up some Union Party moderates, but the Peoples Party leadership is trying to distanced itself from the government and take over the leadership of the centre-right. Still, with the moderate Union Party divided as to how they should react to  this "scandal" (Faroese politics is generally relatively clean, so this is a big deal for them) I think the left will win, with a good result for both SD and Republic, like the spring polls indicated. PP is a quite right wing party with a marginal tax on 40% and only public pensions to the very poor on their program, so they are unlikely to be able to keep centrist voters in the centre-right if the Union Party goes down + many unionist voters  would never vote for a separatist party anyway.

The joker is Poul Michelsen and Progress, they have polled really well in some polls in spring, if they still get a lot of protest votes, that will make it quite messy, but they are unlikely to cut into the Union Party base, because it is a separatist party. Many young people are less committed to the whole unionist/separatist divide than former generations and they may go for Progress (if they are centre-right leaning anyway). It is economically even furter right than PP, but has the whole populist/anti-establishment thing going for them.

But we are waiting for the first poll.
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politicus
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« Reply #18 on: August 06, 2015, 01:32:46 pm »
« Edited: August 06, 2015, 03:12:17 pm by politicus »

First poll with 2011 results in bold:

Social Democrats 23,0% and 8 (+3)  (17,7)
Republic 20,2% and 7 (+1)  (18,3)

Centre Party 4,7% and 2 (-)  (6,2)
Home Rule Party 2,9% and 0 (-1)   (4,7)

Union Party 19,0% and 6 (-3)  (24,7)
Peoples Party 18,6% and 6 (-3)  (22,5)

Progress 11,6% and 4 (+3)  (6,3)

So gains for the left, but they need the SoCons in the Centre Party to form a majority and Progress is gaining a lot.  Also, the oldest party in the Faroes may not get represented for the first time ever (they are at 2,9%, so it is close and well within the margin of error).

Not really sure why the pollster gives the Centre Party 2 and Home Rule zero on those numbers. Seems it would be one for each.
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« Reply #19 on: August 06, 2015, 03:20:28 pm »

So, if Republic were to hypothetically get the highest, would they have a mandate for an independence referendum?
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politicus
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« Reply #20 on: August 06, 2015, 03:33:14 pm »
« Edited: August 06, 2015, 03:37:27 pm by politicus »

So, if Republic were to hypothetically get the highest, would they have a mandate for an independence referendum?

Doesn't really matter if they get the highest. Any majority can call a referendum. But since there is no majority for it in the population at the moment, they wont.

There is already a separatist majority in the present Løgting. So if it had been likely to succeed the separatist parties could have formed a government and went ahead with it. There was a PP, Republic, Home Rule coalition in 1998-2002 (extended with the Centre Party 2002-04), which tried to find a way to finance it, but they failed. Such a coalition is unlikely because PP is under pressure from Progress. So working with the left is not going to be easy for them.

Republic is going for a Red Coaliton with SD, but if they fail to get a majority between them, it gets more complicated.
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politicus
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« Reply #21 on: August 06, 2015, 03:44:18 pm »

The extended self government that the Faroe Islands got in 2005 allows them to secede unilaterally if there is a majority in a referendum, the same applies for Greenland under their 2009 self government agreement.
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politicus
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« Reply #22 on: August 06, 2015, 05:18:43 pm »
« Edited: August 06, 2015, 05:32:52 pm by politicus »

The whole things is complicated and the dividing lines between unionists and separatists are a lot less clear than they used to be:

For starters all Faroese parties agree that the country ought to have its own constitution in order to regulate its relationship with Denmark (but this is against the Danish 1953 constitution, which defines the realm as a unitary state - so legally not an easy thing to do).

And even unionists want more independence. Johannesen shocked the traditionalists in his own party in 2012, when he said that he thought that Denmark, Greenland and the Faroes would be three independent countries joined together in a confederation within 20 years. His argument was that the Faroes have already taken back 8 of the 23 areas that they are allowed to run under the 2005 agreement and that within 20 years they would have taken over the last 15 and then independence would be the logical next step. He also imagined the Faroes having their own seat in the UN and in WTO (Denmark and the Faroes often have diverging interests in trade matters).
He did emphasize that there are strong cultural, family and business ties between Demark and the Faroes and that "getting 80 Faeroese embassies around the world would be pointless" and that defence should also be a common responsibility. So he imagined a close cooperation between the three countries. He also pointed out that Copenhagen is the largest Faroese city with more Faroese living there than in Torshavn. So the Faroes are linked to Denmark whether the separatists like it or not (Denmark and the Faroe Islands have sort of a miniature version of the US/Puerto Rico relationship).

He claimed Denmark would likely be part of a EU-federation at that point and that no country is really sovereign anymore, so the whole sovereignty  issue is pointless.

This of course alienated the traditionalist in his own party and had Bardur Nielsen not left politics for a top job in the private sector in 2007, it is likely he would have been in a position to topple him, but having only just returned to politics in 2011 he apparently lacked the necessary standing in the party.

Later KLJ then wanted to increase the Danish  state grant and return it to 2002 level, so he has been far from consistent.

The Faroese Socialdemocrats have argued that the Faroes and  Greenland should have real influence on Danish foregin policy. Among other things they should be consulted before the Danish government decides to use military force and have a right to veto such a move. An idea supported by the Danish left wing.

When all that is said the Faroes have real problems with a health care system that, among others probems, lacks 50  doctors (a lot in such a small community) and child poverty. As mentioned earlier economists say they are going to lack 750 mio. Danish kroner a year in order to finance their welfare system long term - so it will not be easy to finance independence.

Republic says the Faroes are using their own resources to fund their wealthiest citizens (= Big Fishing and home owners), while using Danish money for welfare to poor people. They point out that the state grant is only 4% of the Faroese GDP and believe it could be eliminated in 6-8 years. But this would require taxing the rich harder and cutting various subsidies and tax breaks to the private sector. Not the way the right wing separatists wants to go (and then there is the touchy subject of municipal reform).

While Progress and PP basically wants to eliminate the Faroese universal welfare state and create a more "North American" social model in order to create the growth in the private sector that could finance a Faroese nation state.

A major obstacle for the separatists is that the Faroese distrust their own politicians and are reluctant to give them sole responsibility for their society. They may vote for separatist parties, but when push comes to shove they simply do not feel confident, that their own political elite will be able to run the country in a sensible manner.

Republic and PP argue that it is having Denmark as a sponsor that makes the political class tend to be irresponsible, and that independence is the best cure for political irresponsibility, but that is a hard sell to voters.

Perhaps KLJs idea that independence will come gradually and end in some sort of either de jure or de facto confederation will be the most likely path forward.
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« Reply #23 on: August 07, 2015, 08:10:38 am »

Poll on whether KLJ should resign:

Yes 74,6
No 18,7
Dunno 6,7

Subsamples are pretty small, but they follow a predictable pattern:

Yes:

Progress 100%
Republic 94,8
SocDems 88,8
Home Rule 72,7
Peoples Party 56,9
Centre Party 54,5
Union Party 42,9


Preferred PM:

Aksel V. Johannesen (SD) 35%
KLJ 5%
Someone else (unspecified) 31%
Dunno 29%
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politicus
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« Reply #24 on: August 08, 2015, 04:02:52 am »
« Edited: August 08, 2015, 04:26:57 am by politicus »

A note on possible coalitions. The Faroes have never had a minority government (like Iceland and Greenland). It is not forbidden,  but not the way things are done in North Atlantic politics.
Their parties ally in some odd combos once in a while (kinda have with two cross cutting cleavages). However, one combo has never been tried - and is extremely unlikely: Union Party/Republic, since they are opposite on everything. This time SD leader Aksel Johannesen has also ruled out the Peoples Party as partner (simply too right wing). It is unclear whether the other parties consider Progress government material at all, and whether party owner Poul Michelsen would want to enter government - it would ruin his populist appeal pretty quickly. The Home Rule Party has often been the kit that kept diverse coalitions together, so without them it gets harder.

Using the poll you get the following combos:

- Republic, SD, Centre (17) the most economically leftist possibility and the most likely with this result. Republic would not be too happy about it, though.

- Republic, PP, Progress (17) the left/right prepare independence coalition, very unlikely in the current climate and made harder by the absence of Home Rule as mediators.

- Republic, SD, Progress (19), socially progressive, and could clean up business subsidies, skewed distribution of fishing quotas etc. but would require Progress to ditch their low tax stuff. Seems unlikely, but would depend on unpredictable Poul Michelsen. Only combo that gets gay marriage legalized.

- Union, PP, Progress, Centre have 18 seats for an economically right wing government, but Progress voters distrust the Union Party and many of them also hate the SocCons in the Centre Party + UP/PP are fed up with each other - as the vote of no confidence showed. Unlikely.

Other combos, that might come into play if polls change a bit: SD, Centre, Union (16), the across the aisle option, is one seat short of a majority. SD/Republic two seats short.
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