On February 23rd, Uni Rasmussen was appointed new Minister of Finance in the place of Jørgen Niclasen, who had resigned his post a week earlier after being caught for a DUI. Mr. Niclasen subsequently also resigned as chairman for the People’s Party (Fólkaflokkurin), and a successor is expected to be appointed at the party congress in March.
Mr. Rasmussen, has represented the People’s Party in parliament since the general election of 2019. His appointment, which marks the fourth change in the cabinet in two years, is a historic one — he is blind, and is apparently the first government minister in the Faroe Islands ever with a disability.
Along with the post of Finance Minister, Mr. Rasmussen has also assumed the title of Vice Prime Minister in the place of Mr. Niclasen.
During a reception at Tinganes in Tórshavn on Wednesday, Prime Minister Bárður á Steig Nielsen touched on the matter of the newly appointed Finance Minister’s disability.
“I know it won’t be an obstacle,” he said, addressing the new Finance Minister. “Nothing is impossible for you. You are a true inspiration to all Faroe Islanders.”
When asked by news daily Portal.fo about how his disability would affect him in his new position, Mr. Rasmussen replied:
“I think this is a really exciting job, and I don’t think whether or not you have a disability should play a key role in such a position.”
As previously mentioned, Mr. Rasmussen’s appointment marks the fourth change in the cabinet under the current government.
In August of 2021, Magnus Rasmussen replaced Helgi Abrahamsen as Minister of Environment, Industry and Trade; and last month Sólvit Nolsø and Árni Skaale replaced Elsebeth Mercedis Gunnleygsdóttur and Jacob Vestergaard as Ministers of Social Affairs and Fishery respectively, after the pair had resigned in December to reclaim their elected seats in parliament to vote against a controversial bill put forth by members of the opposition.
Somewhat awkwardly, since the departure of Ms. Gunnleygsdóttur, the cabinet has consisted exclusively of men — something that has not been seen in the Faroes since 2004, and has been referred to by some as a major backlash for gender equality.
Prime Minister Nielsen has on several occasions, when asked to comment on the issue, expressed his regret over the fact that women are no longer represented in the cabinet, however he has maintained that it is the individual coalition parties who nominate their choice of minister and the Prime Minister’s job to approve them, if they are deemed fit for the position.
“Of course it is preferable that both genders be represented in the cabinet, as in parliament, and I expect things to be completely different in ten years,” he noted.
Apart from Prime Minister Nielsen, only two of the ministers appointed in 2019 remain in office: Jenis av Rana, Minister of Education, Culture and Foreign Affairs, and Kaj Leo Holm Johannesen, Minister of Health.