news

34, female and progressive: This is Finland's new prime minister, Sanna Marin.

Following Australia’s May 2019 election women represented 36.56 per cent of the upper and lower houses of Parliament, ranking 47th in the world for the percentage of women in national parliaments.

By comparison, Finland’s parliament is 47 per cent female, ranking 8th.

On Monday (Sunday, local time) Finland’s transportation minister Sanna Marin was selected by her centre-left Social Democratic party to become the country’s youngest prime minister ever, taking over after the resignation of Antti Rinne.

In 2017, New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern was the world’s youngest female leader. Post continues below video.

Video via Mamamia

The 34-year-old Marin, whose party is the largest in a five-member governing coalition, will be the world’s youngest serving prime minister when she takes office in the coming days. She will be her nation’s third female prime minister.

The five party coalition decided to stay in coalition and continue as a government. Marin’s appointment means that all five coalition parties are led by women (and three of them are under 35).

Marin’s government will also feature a finance minister two years her junior, with Katri Kulmuni, 32, set to take over the portfolio when the new cabinet is announced on Tuesday.

Who is Sanna Marin?

Marin’s swift rise in Finnish politics began when she became head of the city council of her industrial hometown of Tampere at the age of 27. She entered parliament as an MP aged 30.

Raised by same-sex parents, Marin has previously spoken about her “rainbow family”.

“For me, people have always been equal. It’s not a matter of opinion. That’s the foundation of everything,” she told Me Naiset in 2015.

“It was something that couldn’t be discussed. It is only now in the 21st century that the debate on rainbow families has begun quite openly.”

ADVERTISEMENT

She explained how she felt invisible growing up, because she was unable to talk about her family situation.

“The silence was the hardest. Invisibility caused a feeling of incompetence,” she said.

“We were not recognised as a true family or equal with others. But I wasn’t much bullied. Even when I was little, I was very candid and stubborn. I would not have accepted anything easily.”

 

View this post on Instagram

 

A post shared by Sanna Marin (@sannamarin) on

Marin was the first person in her family to go to university, studying Administrative Sciences at the University of Tampere and although she never expected to, quickly rose in politics.

“When I was in high school, I felt that the people who make politics are quite different and come from different backgrounds than I am. At that time, I didn’t think it was possible to get involved myself,” she told Me Naiset.

Marin has one daughter, one-year-old Emma Amalia Marin, with partner Markus Räikköne.

She documented her pregnancy journey and maternity leave on Instagram, sharing images of her baby bump, breastfeeding and trips out with her baby.

ADVERTISEMENT

Marin described her five months of parental leave as the happiest time of her life.

 

View this post on Instagram

 

A post shared by Sanna Marin (@sannamarin) on


Since June, Marin has held the position of Transport and Communications Minister.

Policywise, Marin’s appointment won’t see a shift in policy focuses.

The left-leaning government pledged in June to make the country carbon neutral by 2035 as part of a policy program that includes a major increase in public spending on welfare and infrastructure.

Following her party’s vote to take Rinne’s place as leader, Marin reflected on how she got to the top job.

“I myself have never thought about my age or my gender, but rather about the issues for which I took on politics and about the reasons for which we were trusted in the elections,” she told Finnish public broadcaster YLE. 

And very importantly, and perhaps the most stereotypically Finnish thing we could imagine: Marin is a metal fan, citing Rise Against The Machine as her favourite band.

Finland’s young MPs.

Finland has a long history of progressive politics. It was one of the first European nations to give women voting rights in 1906, and subsequently became the first country in the world to elect a female to parliament the following year.

ADVERTISEMENT

Following its most recent election in April 2019, the Finnish people elected a number of younger members of parliament – both male and female.

Eight newly-elected members were under 30 years old, and 45 per cent of the parliament was under 45, This is Finland reported.

Iiris Suomela, a 24-year-old Green from Tampere, was the youngest new MP.

Marin will be the youngest world leader when she takes office.

A record number of women also won seats, equaling 47 per cent of all elected MPs. Women hold 22 of the Social Democratic Party’s 40 seats.

In the Green party, 17/20 of the party’s candidates were female.

What does Marin face as PM?

Former prime minister Rinne resigned on Tuesday after a party in the coalition, the Centre Party, said it had lost confidence in him following his handling of a postal strike.

“We have a lot of work ahead to rebuild trust,” Marin told reporters after winning a narrow vote among the party leadership on Sunday. Antti Lindtman, head of the party’s parliamentary group, was runner-up.

She will take over in the middle of a three-day wave of strikes, which will halt production at some of Finland’s largest companies from Monday. The Confederation of Finnish Industries estimates the strikes will cost the companies a combined 500 million euros ($A808 million) in lost revenue.

The centre-left coalition, which took office just six months ago, has agreed to continue with its political program stressing a shift to carbon neutrality, after Rinne announced he was stepping down at the demand of the Centre Party.

“We have a joint government program which glues the coalition together,” Marin said.

The timing of the change in leadership is awkward for Finland, which holds the rotating presidency of the European Union until the end of the year, playing a central role in efforts to hammer out a new budget for the bloc.

Marin joins a growing number of world leaders under 40.

New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern was 37 when she took office in 2017. In August, 35-year-old Oleksiy Honcharuk was elected Prime Minister of Ukraine and in February, 38-year-old Nayib Bukele won presidential elections in El Salvador.

00:00 / ???