Finland’s transport minister, Sanna Marin, 34, has been selected to lead the Social Democratic party, making her the country’s youngest prime minister ever when she takes office in the coming days. She is also Finland’s third female government leader.
Finland’s coalition government will be composed of five parties all led by women – four under the age of 35, for the first time.
Finland’s government is now led by these five party leaders. #newgeneration pic.twitter.com/vis0qB9tO8
— Tuomas Niskakangas (@TNiskakangas) December 8, 2019
Sanna Marin has been chosen by her party after outgoing leader Antti Rinne, who stepped down as prime minister last week after he lost the support of key coalition partner the Centre Party, who cited a lack of trust.
Mr Rinne became Finland’s first left-wing leader in 20 years after the Social Democrats emerged as the biggest party in April’s general election.
However, his leadership was criticised by his main coalition party over a two-week strike by the state-owned postal service in November that spread to other industries, including airline Finnair.
Mr Rinne’s decision to step down prompted the formal resignation of a coalition of the Social Democrats and the Centre Party and three junior partners: the Greens, the Left Alliance and the Swedish People’s Party of Finland.
Marin has had a swift rise in Finnish politics since becoming head of the city council of her industrial hometown of Tampere at the age of 27.
Media reports say Sanna Marin was raised in a “rainbow family”, living in a rented apartment with her mother and her mother’s female partner. She told the Menaiset website (in Finnish) in 2015 that as a child she felt “invisible” because she was unable to talk openly about her family.
“We have a lot of work ahead to rebuild trust,” Marin said after winning a narrow vote among the party leadership.
“I have never thought about my age or gender, I think of the reasons I got into politics and those things for which we have won the trust of the electorate.”
Associated Press commented: 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.
Lawmakers are likely to approve the appointment of Marin and her new government quickly so she can represent Finland at the 12 Dec EU leaders’ summit in Brussels.
Tuomas Yla-Anttila, an associate professor of political science at the University of Helsinki said that Ms. Marin’s appointment as prime minister has symbolic value in the country, but is also a reflection of strides in gender equality.
“For a long time we had the situation in Finland where there were only men, now there are women, sometimes it goes the other way round,” he said, pointing to the all-female government leadership.
Former prime minister Alexander Stubb celebrated the new coalition, saying it “shows that Finland is a modern and progressive country”.