Sanna Marin – more than the dancing prime minister

Sanna Marin, Prime Minister of Finland, at the European Parliament in Strasbourg on Tuesday.

When Sanna Mirella Marin became Prime Minister of Finland in December 2019, she was by no means the first woman to hold the office. But she was the youngest female prime minister in Finland’s history. At 34, she was even the world’s youngest head of government when she took office – at least until Sebastian Kurz became chancellor again in Austria in January 2020.

For a few weeks, the now 36-year-old social democrat has had one more unusual publicity feature – she is the dancing prime minister. And not everyone likes it. Marin has been heavily criticized by conservatives for the videos that show her dancing. They even demanded a drug test. Marin complied without much ado, and as expected, presented a negative result shortly after. Marin is popular among the Finnish population; according to a recent survey, 68 percent were “at least fairly satisfied” with her politics – her popularity has even increased in recent months.

Marin also received support from the EU Parliament on Tuesday. After her speech on the situation in Europe, Belgian MEP Assita Kanko (EPP) said that people tend to forget that politicians are also human beings and not machines. Women would be more strictly controlled and some would give up their offices because of that.

In her speech to the EU Parliament in Strasbourg, Marin made it clear once again that there are far bigger problems ahead than dancing female ministers. “In its war of aggression against Ukraine, Russia has breached and abandoned the key principles and commitments of the European security order. The energy market is suffering from exceptional uncertainty, and that, together with inflation, may cause an economic downturn in Europe,” she said. “This summer’s record drought and natural disasters show how climate change is progressing. If we don’t act in time – if we don’t act immediately – it will be too late. We will not get a second chance.”

‘Final warning shot for the EU’

Paulo Rangel (EPP) congratulated Marin on the decision to join NATO. He said it was one of the most important geopolitical achievements of the 21st century, not only because it strengthened Finland’s safety but also because it strengthened the entire Euro-Atlantic community and its collective security.

In a subsequent appearance with Parliament President Roberta Metsola, Marin demanded further sanctions packages from the EU Commission. “Sanctions are our only way to weaken Russia, and we will be open to the EU Commission’s new sanctions.” Russia’s war against Ukraine is also the final warning shot that the EU must be capable of standing on its own two feet when it comes down to it, Marin said. Metsola made it equally clear that the EU must stop relying on unreliable partners and cannot delay the energy transition.

Marin was born in Helsinki and grew up with two mothers. She stands for a young generation and modern politics. She took interest in politics early on, writing her master’s thesis on “Finland, the land of mayors” and the professionalization process of political leadership in Finnish cities.

She is regarded as a shooting star and skilled politician and becomes the second chairwoman of the Social Democratic Party (SDP) in 2014. In 2015, her first time as a candidate, she is elected to the Finnish Parliament and serves on the Main and Environment Committees, among others. In the government led by her predecessor Antti Rinne (SDP), she becomes Minister of Transport and Communications. She has held the presidency of the Social Democratic Party since August 2020.

Environmental issues still accompany her today. Her government has set itself highly ambitious goals: Finland wants to be carbon-neutral by 2035 and become the world’s first fossil-free welfare society. For this reason, but also in view of Russia’s war against Ukraine, Marin calls for the rapid expansion of renewable energies, since Finland is also dependent on Russian energy supplies. Lisa-Martina Klein

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