Ndo we know why Donald Trump wanted to buy Greenland. In the Netflix premiere of the Danish political drama Borgen – returning with a fourth series after almost a decade away – oil was found on the world’s largest island. Fingers crossed, the Danish ambassador to the Arctic said at a Foreign Ministry briefing that the field would be as big and lucrative as Ekofisk. You remember Ekofisk: the Norwegian-funded oil field to secure the economic future of its citizens for generations while we British, sad face, did nothing so sensible with our North Sea revenues.
Just a second, you might as well intervene. Could you tell us about Greenland’s political status? Of course. Greenland was a Danish colony from 1814 to 1953, when it became part of Denmark. Home rule was established in 1979 and it voted for additional autonomous powers in 2008. That said, not a few of Greenland’s 56,000-strong population yearn for independence and to use any oil to fund that project. Aren’t you glad you asked?
Borgen may be almost homonymous to the point of boredom – and even I know that the episode that dealt with political machines about who should become the next EU Commissioner for Denmark is an hour when I’d better spend a bath in donkey milk with cucumber slices over my eyes – but this opening episode is whistling ahead.
It cuts quickly and furiously between cabinet crises, ratings on TV1 and the personal and political affairs of our heroine, Birgitte Nyborg, as she reconnects with my pale, masculine – if not stale – role models, the models of Søren Malling . grumpy news editor Torben Friis and Lars Mikkelsen’s bad boy economist Søren Ravn.
Back to the plot. A government bean calculator estimates that if Greenland’s oil field yields 100 million barrels over a 30-year period, that would produce a revenue stream of $ 285 billion. That money would pay off for many teachers, says finance minister Helle Holst at a cabinet meeting. But hold on: Denmark can’t be a party to drilling for oil, contradicts our heroine, who is the foreign minister and thus Copenhagen’s response to Liz Truss. Despite all the other things that have happened in her life – brusque days, a son dedicated to pig release, the pregnancy of her ex’s new partner – she is the most clairvoyant. Copenhagen, she points out, has signed the Paris agreement and promised to become carbon neutral by 2050.
True, says pragmatic Helle, but that gives Denmark 28 years to exploit the new oil source without breaking that promise. There is a remark that would make Greta Thunberg and George Monbiot‘S forehead veins are so pulsating that if those sources of green energy could be plugged into the National Grid, we might not need oil to boil our kettles.
How long has this new series by Borgen been asking whether politicians should stand by their ideals? Should we sacrifice our principles on the altar of economic stability?
The questions become more troubling when we find out that Russians bought the Canadian party in the company that drills for oil. Worse still, the head of that company is Putin’s comrade. Can the Danish government really support such a project at a time when Western sanctions are being imposed on the Kremlin for invading Ukraine? If you answered yes, you probably are Sergei Lavrov.
Much has changed since we last visited Borgen, in 2014. Scandi’s love affair with the UK is over. No more accessorizing shoes with Faroese jumpers. I stopped answering my phone cheerfully: “Saga Norén, Malmö CID.” Denmark has elected a second female prime minister, Mette Frederiksen. It picked no one when the show, about Nyborg’s ascent to the top task, began.
As discussed, however, Nyborg’s career has taken a downward turn – yet she still has power as part of a coalition led by Signe Kragh. Effectively, she is Nick Clegg to David Cameron, if Clegg and Cameron were women and inspirational.
But if the future is feminine (the title of the first episode), there is no fraternal solidarity. Kragh discovers that Nyborg has turned everything on Dominic Cummings, reporting against her boss due to the PM’s irrational pro-oil stance. “You’re alone on an ice floe,” Kragh growls as she discovers what Nyborg has done behind her back. “Let’s hope it doesn’t melt under your feet.” Now that, boys and girls, is like making a threat.
If, like me, you yearn for democratic politics to be done with Machiavellian sophistication and attention to principle and political detail – in other words, in a way hostile to Westminster practices – you will agree that it is nice to have Borgen back. As a 2022 version of The West Wingit is a fictitious antidote to an unbearable reality.