Finland’s Sanna Marin to become world’s youngest prime minister

At just 34, the Finnish social democrat will be confirmed as the new leader on Tuesday

Sanna Marin demonstrated her leadership skills earlier this year when she stood in for former PM Antti Rinne while he was recovering from a serious illness. Photograph: Vesa Moilanen/

Sanna Marin demonstrated her leadership skills earlier this year when she stood in for former PM Antti Rinne while he was recovering from a serious illness. Photograph: Vesa Moilanen/

 

At just 34 years old, Sanna Marin is about to make history as she becomes the world’s youngest prime minister. The Finnish social democrat won her party’s backing over the weekend and is set to be confirmed on Tuesday.

Ms Marin will need to govern a five-party coalition that just ousted her predecessor, Antti Rinne, after he stumbled on several key issues. In the end, he was toppled in a dispute concerning pay at the state postal company.

Finland’s new prime minister will have a finance minister two years her junior in a new women-led coalition cabinet after a political shake-up, according to party officials.

See Statista.com
See Statista.com

Ms Marin is from the dominant Social Democrats and was nominated on Sunday. The Centre Party chief, 32-year-old Katri Kulmuni, will get the finance post when the full new cabinet is announced this week, said party members.

Finland’s government resigned last week after the Centre Party said it had lost confidence in the Social Democrat prime minister over his handling of the postal strike.

The five parties in power – four of them led by women – decided to stay in coalition and continue with the same programmes, but said there would be a reshuffle.

“We want to make the axis between the prime minister and the finance minister work,” said Ms Kulmuni . “That is the foundation for this new generation of collaboration [between the Social Democrats and the Centre Party].”

There was no immediate comment from Ms Marin, the former minister for transport.

She 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.

She will take over in the middle of a 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 in lost revenue.

Ms Kulmuni, who previously held the more junior position of minister for economic affairs, replaces Mika Lintila. She took over as the head of the Centre Party from ex-prime minister Juha Sipila in September.

Third woman PM

Green Party leader Maria Ohisalo (34) will continue as minister for the interior, the Left Alliance’s chairwoman Li Andersson (32) as minister for education and the Swedish People’s Party of Finland’s Anna-Maja Henriksson (55) as minister for justice.

Mr Rinne will remain the Social Democrats leader at least until he chairs the party’s conference in June.

Ms Marin will lead a government at a younger age even than New Zealand’s premier Jacinda Ardern, who was 37 at the time of her appointment. North Korea’s Kim Jong Un was under 30 when he became supreme leader in 2011. Going further back in history, William Pitt the Younger stands out, becoming Britain’s prime minister at just 24 in 1783.

Finland’s new leader is the third woman to hold the position but she faces a tough start after Mr Rinne’s demise just six months into his first term left rifts across the government.

Ms Marin had a chance to demonstrate her leadership skills earlier this year, when she stood in for Mr Rinne while he was recovering from a serious illness.

The peculiarities of Finland’s parliamentary system led to about 60 social democrats being in a position to pick the country’s next premier. Snap elections are a distant possibility at this juncture. – Reuters/Bloomberg