FAROE ISLANDS: THE NEW CONSTITUTION IS DELAYED

    Recently elections have been held in the Faroe Islands, and the balance between unionists and independentists has been maintained. The independence party FOLKÁ FLOKKURIN was the victor (8 seats in the new parliament), and the unionist JAVNAÔARFLOKKURIN was the second force (7 seats). The unionist parties have a combined representation of 52% in the Faroese parliament, and the independence parties 48%.

    The Faroe Islands are under Danish rule since the Fourteenth Century, but they have a very wide autonomy, a living language and a strong national feeling. It is curious to note that the majority of Faroese, even unionists, consider themselves to Faroese only and non-Danish. The tolerance that Denmark has historically shown towards the language, culture and identity of the Faroese (far removed from what Spain or France have shown towards the Basques) explains that half of the Faroese population do not wish to break political ties with that country, despite wishing to be considered only Faroese.

    The Faroese should have voted their new Constitution in 2018, which contemplated recognizing Faroese nationality and their right to self-determination. But they did not. The problems did not come from Denmark (whose government at all times demonstrated exemplary behavior, as it made it clear that the political future of the islands depends on the will of the Faroese alone) but on the Faroese Parliament itself: the independence and unionist political parties were unable in the previous legislature to agree on a text, and therefore the planned deadlines were not met.

    Unionists and independentists formed a leftist government during the previous legislature. After the recent elections, however, a center-right government has taken over (formed by the independentist FOLKÁ FLOKKURIN, the unionist SAMBANDSFLOKKURIN and the autonomist MIÔFLOKKURIN). In their government program these parties make no mention of the new Constitution: they have omitted the issue to avoid friction between them. This means that in practice, the Faroese will not take steps towards independence in the next four years, unless there is a surprise.

    The work to write the new Constitution began in 1999. Although in many points broad consensus was reached, in terms of self-determination, agreement was not possible. The new constitutional project was presented three times in parliament, but each time it was rejected.

    Since 1948 the Faroe Islands have broad political autonomy within Denmark. In 2005, this autonomy was further extended: the Faroese government can sign international treaties, for example, on issues that directly affect the islands. Today the Faroe Islands have exclusive powers to make laws and manage many issues, including tax and financial policies. This means “de facto” that all decisions that affect the daily life of the Faroese are made in the Faroe Islands.

    Three points that reflect the broad autonomy of the Faroese government: the Faroe Islands have their own football team (which competes internationally), are a member of Unesco and are not in the European Union (by their own choice), although Denmark does belong to that Union.

    The Faroese have slackened pace on their way to independence. They are not in a hurry. Maybe because in fact they are almost independent. Or because they do not feel mistreated by Denmark, but respected and understood. We Basques obviously cannot say the same.