Finland’s PM fights back against party criticism

© Laura Kotila / Finnish Government

Finland’s Prime Minister Sanna Marin rejects criticism for having been in a party with friends with whom she was dancing and playing up to a video camera. She said she disliked that the video clips from the party a few days later emerged on Instagram but insists she just had some alcohol and some good fun.

To defend herself against accusations by the opposition, she took a drug test and told the press at a conference on Friday 19 August that the result would be released in a week.

The video shows Sanna Marin dancing and partying with a group of friends and celebrities.

The Telegraph shows her reactions to the fact that the videos went viral, but even when expressing her resentment, she smiles and asks what’s wrong with partying.

Marin’s behavior in the video has of course been used by her opposition to claim that this is inappropriate for a prime minister, but others have defended her right to enjoy a private event with friends.

Marin has the support of her party, with Antti Lindtman, head of the Social Democratic Party’s parliamentary group, telling media he “can’t see any major problem with dancing at a private event with friends”.

Marin herself is clear:

“I hope that in the year 2022 it’s accepted that even decision-makers dance, sing and go to parties,” Marin told reporters. “I didn’t wish for any images to be spread, but it’s up to the voters to decide what they think about it.”

The prime minister, who is married and has a 4-year-old daughter, has often insisted that even though she’s the head of Finland’s government, she’s just like anyone else her age who likes a good time with friends and family in their leisure time.

Marin became Finland’s youngest prime minister in 2019 at age 34. Even in the egalitarian Nordic country, Marin felt her gender and age sometimes received too much emphasis. She told Vogue magazine in 2020 that “in every position I’ve ever been in, my gender has always been the starting point – that I am a young woman.”

Yahoo News quotes Anu Koivonen, a professor of gender studies at Finland’s University of Turku, for clarifying that she didn’t think gender was a decisive factor in the uproar over the leaked video. She said the partying itself was not a big issue, but the fact the video leaked could be viewed as a judgment lapse by the prime minister in terms of the people she surrounded herself with.

“That she didn’t restrain herself in a company where she cannot trust everyone in the room,” Koivonen said. “I think that’s the main issue.”

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It’s not the first time that Marin’s partying has made headlines. In December, she apologized after going out clubbing until 4 a.m. and missing a text message advising her to avoid social contacts due to her proximity to someone infected with COVID-19. Marin said she didn’t see the message because she had left her phone at home. She tested negative for the virus.

Even in a progressive society like Finland’s, Marin breaks the mold of a typical politician. She grew up with a single mother who was in a relationship with another woman. Many Finns are proud of her modern approach to the office, including her casual attire. Marin set social media abuzz in April when she showed up to a press conference with her Swedish counterpart wearing a black leather jacket.

Marin and her female-majority Cabinet have also won praise in Finland and internationally for guiding the country steadfastly through the COVID-19 pandemic and the NATO application process.

“Our prime minister is super,” said Jori Korkman, a retiree in Helsinki. “She has taken her very difficult job during a very difficult time, and she has made a first-class job. What she’s doing in her free time is not our business.”


About Gregers Møller

Editor-in-Chief • ScandAsia Publishing Co., Ltd. • Bangkok, Thailand

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