Jonathan Motzfeldt

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Jonathan Motzfeldt
Jonathan Motzfeldt 2003.jpg
1st Prime Minister of Greenland
In office
19 September 1997 – 14 December 2002
Monarch Margrethe II
Preceded by Lars Emil Johansen
Succeeded by Hans Enoksen
In office
1 May 1979 – 18 March 1991
Monarch Margrethe II
Preceded by Position Established
Succeeded by Lars Emil Johansen
Personal details
Born 25 September 1938
Died 28 October 2010 (aged 72)
Political party Siumut
Spouse(s) Kristjana Gudrun Gudmundsdottir

Jonathan Motzfeldt (25 September 1938 – 28 October 2010[1]) was the first and third Prime Minister of Greenland.

From 1979 to 1988, in 1997 and from 2003 to 2008, he was Chairman of the Greenland Landsting. He was prime minister twice, from 1 May 1979 to 18 March 1991 and from 19 September 1997 to 14 December 2002. At the time of his death Motzfeldt was the current president of the West Nordic Council.

After having placed himself at the forefront of the political emancipation process that Greenland's population began in earnest in the early 1970s, Motzfeldt became synonymous with the Greenland Home Rule. In the same manner as he stepped forward borne on the shoulders of the true pioneers of the independence movement, he secured almost absolute power through a series of spectacular and often quite brutal political cleansing processes. In these purges old comrades like Lars Emil Johansen, Moses Olsen, Lars Chemnitz and Emil Abelsen were pushed into the political sidelines.

After a prolonged period with an increasingly uncontrolled alcohol abuse, and a series of spectacular scandals Motzfeldt was forced to resign as Prime Minister in 1991. However, he was awarded a number of key positions in the publicly owned portion of Greenland's economy. The post of Prime Minister thereafter went to Lars Emil Johansen. Due in part, but not exclusively, to the latter's own alcoholism, Motzfeldt took the post of Prime Minister again in 1997. He held this post until 2001, when he was forced to call new elections because of serious criticism from the parliament (the Landsting) of management of the Home Rule's economy. The post of Prime Minister then went to Enoksen. Motzfeldt was then again chairman of the Greenland Parliament. In this post he marked himself mostly as a political retreat figure who failed to contribute positively to Greenland's continuing political development. His last political year were marked by renewed abuse and uncontrolled economic consumption on travel and so-called representation.

After being reported to the police for an alleged sexual assault, he chose 18 January 2008 to resign from the post of chairman of the parliament. The case was subsequently dropped, without charges. At the post as chairman of the parliament he was succeeded by fellow party member Ruth Heilmann.

In the spring 2009 Motzfeldt was hit by a major scandal for abusing public funds for private purposes. The newspaper AG documented that up to 2008 he had let the government pay for private dinners. Also, it was the public purse that paid when the former prime minister took large amounts of alcohol. The scandal culminated when he briefly before parliamentary elections in June 2009 was denied boarding a helicopter in Qaqortoq due to intoxication. He was not re-elected in the parliament elections on 2 June 2009.[citation needed]


Motzfeldt died on 28 October 2010, aged 72, from a cerebral hemorrhage.[2]


  1. ^ "Jonathan Motzfeldt er død" (in Danish). BT. 28 October 2010. 
  2. ^ New York Times obituary

External links[edit]

Political offices
New title
Greenland granted home rule
Prime Minister of Greenland
Succeeded by
Lars Emil Johansen
Preceded by
Lars Emil Johansen
Prime Minister of Greenland
Succeeded by
Hans Enoksen