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
Qassimiut
Died 28 October 2010 (aged 72)
Political party Siumut
Spouse(s) Kristjana Gudrun Gudmundsdottir

Jonathan Jakob Jørgen Otto Motzfeldt (25 September 1938 – 28 October 2010[1]) was a Greenlandic priest and politician. He is considered one of the leading figures in the establishment of Greenland Home Rule.[2] Jonathan Motzfeldt was the first and third Prime Minister of Greenland.

Personal life[edit]

Jonathan "Junnuk" Motzfeldt was born in 1938 in the settlement of Qassimiut in southern Greenland as son to the hunter Søren Motzfeldt (1902-1984) and his wife Kirsten Klemmensen (1904-1979).[3]

After his teacher's exam at Illinniarfissuaq (Greenland College) in Nuuk in 1960, he studied theology at the University of Copenhagen until 1966, subsequently working as a pastor in Qaqortoq, Greenland until 1979.[4][5]

In 1992, Jonathan Motzfeldt married Kristjana Gudrun Gudmonsdóttir (born 1951) from Iceland. They had no children.[6] However, from a previous partnership with Margit Kock Petersen, he had two children: Karen Motzfeldt (born 1966) and Claus Motzfeldt (born 1969).[7][8] Greenlandic handball player Hans Peter Motzfeldt-Kyed is Motzfeldt's nephew.

Political career[edit]

Already in the mid-1950s, Jonathan Motzfeldt started his battle for Greenland's autonomy with a group of young Inuit activists.[9] In the early 1970s Motzfeldt became involved in the social democratic independence movement Siumut. 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.

In 1977 he was elected Chairman of Siumut party for the first time. In addition, he served as Chairman of the Greenland Landsting from 1979 to 1988, in 1997 and from 2003 to 2008.

On 1 May 1979, Jonathan Motzfeldt became the first Prime Minister of Greenland. He led the government for almost twelve years until 18 March 1991, when he was forced to resign and leave politics because of a drinking problem.[10] 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 2002, 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. Unilingual party fellow Hans Enoksen was elected Prime Minister of Greenland on December 14, 2002. Josef "Tuusi" Motzfeldt, the leader of IA, became deputy prime minister in the new government.[11]

Jonathan 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.[citation needed]

Jonathan Motzfeldt at a book fair in Copenhagen in November 2008.

Mr. Motzfeldt resigned as speaker of Greenland’s Parliament on 18 January 2008 amid allegations that he had groped a female civil servant who reported him to the police. Motzfeldt denied wrongdoing. The case was subsequently dropped, without charges.[12] Fellow party member Ruth Heilmann became his successor as speaker of the parliament.

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]

Death[edit]

Motzfeldt died on 28 October 2010, aged 72, from a cerebral hemorrhage.[13] At the time of his death Motzfeldt was the current president of the West Nordic Council.

References[edit]

External links[edit]

Political offices
New title
Greenland granted home rule
Prime Minister of Greenland
1979–1991
Succeeded by
Lars Emil Johansen
Preceded by
Lars Emil Johansen
Prime Minister of Greenland
1997–2002
Succeeded by
Hans Enoksen