Finland's 'rock star' leader Sanna Marin could lose general election

Is it all about to go wrong for Sanna Marin? How Finland’s ‘rock star’ leader could lose tomorrow’s general election after THAT party video

  • Finnish politics could dramatically shift to the far-right after Sunday’s election 
  • READ MORE:  Finland’s ‘rock star’ PM Sanna Marin looks set to LOSE election

A hard-working mother letting her hair down, enjoying a few drinks, and partying with her friends. There is nothing extraordinary about that. 

But for Sanna Marin – Finland’s Prime Minister – a leaked video of her doing just that will remain a constant thorn in her side as she and her party face an extremely tight election.

Seized upon by her political rivals, the video once again called into question the 37-year-old leader’s ‘partying’ lifestyle, the year after she apoligised for going clubbing during the pandemic, despite coming into contact with a potential Covid case.   

Tomorrow, Finns will go to the polls, in what is shaping up to be an extremely close race between three parties, with Marin’s Social Democrats slightly behind in the polls as they fight to secure a second term at the head of government.

The election is taking place just days after Finland cleared the last big hurdle in its 10-month campaign to join NATO. Turkey’s parliament on Thursday ratified the Nordic nation’s membership in the Western military alliance.

An election poster of Social Democratic Party SDP chair and Finnish Prime Minister Sanna Marin is displayed on a campaign booth ahead of Sunday’s election

The ‘rockstar’ PM was pictured ready to party at the Flow festival in Helsinki with photographer and influencer Janita Autio on the latter’s Instagram account

Marin is often spotted out and about with her husband Markus Räikkönen

Marin – who became the youngest world leader following her election in 2019 at the age of 34 – has increased her international visibility by impressing on the world state. She has been a vocal supporter of  Ukraine, even visiting Kyiv and President Zelensky just weeks ago, and has even called out China’s persecution of the Uighur Muslim population.

Marin received particular plaudits in October last year when she was asked about a potential off-ramp for Russia to end the war in Ukraine. Rather plainly, she responded: ‘The way out of this conflict is for Russia to leave Ukraine. That is the way out of the conflict. The exit from the conflict is when Russia leaves the territory of Ukraine.’

But while she remains relatively popular at home, many Finns are also frustrated with their country’s rising cost-of-living – something Marin has said is a consequence of Russia’s invasion.

Marin leads a centre-Left coalition of Social Democrats, the Centre, the Greens, the Left Alliance and the Swedish People’s Party of Finland. The centre-right National Coalition Party and right-wing populist Finns Party currently lead their opponents at the polls.

Although some view Marin as a strong leader who skillfully navigated the Covid-19 pandemic and the country’s NATO membership process, others say her ‘partying scandals’ and ‘youthful behaviour’ make her unfit for office.

‘Sanna Marin is a polarising character. She has fans like a rock star but on the other hand she has a lot of people who can’t stand her,’ Marko Junkkari, a journalist at daily Helsingin Sanomat, said.

Hanna Wass, the vice-dean of the University of Helsinki, also addressed Marin’s two varying images, telling the FT: ‘Internationally, she’s a superstar. In Finland, she’s more of a polarising figure.’

A video of Sanna Marin caused a stir when she was seen dancing rather intimately with a stranger in club Café Klubi in August 2022

Sanna Marin became one of the youngest world leaders in 2019 when was sworn in as Finland’s prime minister at the age of 34

Finnish Prime Minister, Chair of the Social Democratic Party (SDP) Sanna Marin poses for a picture during her elections rally on March 31

Social Democratic Party SDP chair and Finnish Prime Minister Sanna Marin addresses supporters during her elections rally in Vantaa, Finland

How Finnish politics could shift to the far-right in an election that could see Sanna Marin’s Social Democrats Party replaced

Finnish politics could dramatically shift to the far-Right on Sunday as an anti-immigration party aims to replace Sanna Marin’s Social Democrats Party.

The ‘rock star’ prime minister is Finland’s most popular leader this century, polls show.

However, the latest figures put the mother-of-one’s centre-Left SDP in third place behind the anti-immigration and nationalist Finns Party and the centre-Right National Coalition Party, which held on to a thin lead.

‘It is a very exciting situation and it’s hard to say at the moment which party will be the biggest on election day,’ Tuomo Turja of the polling firm Taloustutkimus told AFP.

A win for the far-Right Finns Party, and a far-Right prime minister, would be a first in Finland – but the party has previously served in government in a coalition. 

It currently looks set to top its record 19 per cent from the 2011 election.

The latest polls on Thursday put Sanna Marin’s centre-left SDP in third place, behind the anti-immigration and nationalist Finns Party and the centre-right National Coalition

An election poster of Social Democratic Party SDP chair and Finnish Prime Minister Sanna Marin is displayed on a campaign booth in Helsinki on March 31

Sanna Marin’s ‘partying’ lifestyle – and THAT leaked video 

Sanna Marin has broken down several barriers since she became Finland’s prime minister.

But while Finnish opinion polls for Marin’s coalition government remain steadily positive, some people have raised questions about the mother-of-one’s ‘partying’ lifestyle. 

After a video surfaced of Marin – who shares a daughter Emma Amalia Marin with her husband Markus Räikkönen – dancing with some celebrity friends while music blared in the background, the PM received criticism for her antics. 

The video last year came just eight months after Marin was forced to apologise for going out clubbing after coming into contact with a Covid-19 case in December 2021. 

She did not have her official phone with her, which was where she received the notification she needed to isolate.

Apologising following the partying video, she said: ‘I am also human. ‘I do my job. I learn from this. 

‘This week has not been easy. It has been difficult. But I want to believe that people look at the work we do, not what we do in our free time.’

Marin previously came under fire after a video of herself partying with around 20 other revellers surfaced

She was seen dancing wildly and partying with a group of celebrity friends in a video previously leaked online

Sanna Marin as she gives a speech after a leaked partying video in August 2022

When Marin came to power in 2019 pictures of her five-party coalition, all headed by women, made headlines

Seven of the country’s eight largest parties are run by women, and Finland ranks among the world’s best countries for gender equality.

When Marin came to power in 2019 – Finland’s third female prime minister – pictures of her five-party coalition, all headed by women, made headlines around the world.

The Finnish parliament was the first in the world to have women as MPs in 1907, when Finland was still an autonomous Grand Duchy of the Russian empire.

While women have never been a majority in parliament, they make up 47 percent of outgoing MPs.

And the share of women running for office on Sunday is the highest ever.

The Finnish language may help explain Finns’ egalitarian nature. It does not distinguish between genders for personal pronouns, with the word ‘han’ meaning both ‘he’ and ‘she’.

Women are the leaders of all the governing coalition parties in Finland. From left to right: Annika Saarikko, Maria Ohisalo, Li Andersson, and Anna-Maja Henriksson

Sanna Marin became Finland’s third female prime minister and, at the time, the youngest prime minister in the world

‘I didn’t think it was possible to get into politics myself’

Marin has previously admitted that she never expected to get into politics, telling the Menaiset website: ‘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.’ 

Marin, who spent her teenage years working in a bakery, added that her mother has always been very supportive and made her believe she could do anything she wanted.

Marin is known for sharing snippets of her personal life on Instagram 

Marin is known for sharing some snippets of her personal life with the public on her Instagram account – including trips with Markus and lavish events where she shows off her glamorous side.

Last summer Marin donned a sequinned dress and teamed up with photographer and influencer Janita Autio to let down their hair at the Flow Festival in Helsinki, where it’s thought she took to the stage.

She also knows how to rock a ballgown and is often pictured on the red carpet at events with Markus. 

Marin has also headed up the Pride parade in Helsinki – a cause important to her after being raised by two mothers.

The mother-of-one wore a white dress with pink embroidery in an Aztec-style as she waved rainbow flags and walked through the streets of Helsinki.

Sanna Marin, 36, became the prime minister of Finland in 2019 when she was just 34 – and while her approval ratings are strong, people have questioned her ‘partying’ lifestyle

Marin got married to Markus in August 2020 and posted a photo on Instagram of the pair on their wedding day

The mother-of-one uses her Instagram account to post photos which show an honest account of motherhood, including feeding time

Marin will focus on seeking economic growth and stronger employment 

The economy, climate change and others issues that affect voters’ daily lives – like education and social benefits – have dominated the election campaign. 

Job creation and Finland’s rapidly increasing government debt are issues that will likely preoccupy the next government of the Nordic nation of 5.5 million.

‘Above all, we must seek economic growth and stronger employment,’ Marin said in a recent interview with Finnish public broadcaster YLE. 

‘If we don’t succeed in these two things, we won’t be able to reduce our indebtedness, and we won’t be able to balance our economy.’

While Russia’s invasion of Ukraine prompted Finland to seek NATO membership in May 2022, neither the historic decision to abandon the nation’s non-alignment policy nor the war have emerged as major campaign issues. Finland shares a long land border with Russia.

Marin played a prominent role, along with President Sauli Niinistö, in advocating for Finland’s application to join NATO, which was made in tandem with Sweden. On Friday, she thanked the countries that supported its membership.

There was a broad consensus among the country’s political parties and overwhelming domestic support for membership in the Western military alliance.

Kimmo Elo, a senior researcher in parliamentary studies at the University of Turku, said that Finland’s pending bid played ‘a very small role’ in the campaign, making it unlikely that Turkey’s ratification would emerge as a matter of debate or impact voters’ choices.

Marin rules out the Social Democrats partnering with The Finns

Marin has ruled out the Social Democrats partnering with The Finns after the election, citing substantial differences in values and policies. 

The populist, nationalist party’s candidates have run on an anti-immigration and anti-European Union platform.

Should Marin’s party win, forming the same coalition again is out of the question as the Center Party has said it doesn’t favor such a government composition any more.

The populists, who also have a woman as party leader, are in turn highly critical of a goal set by Marin’s government to make Finland carbon-neutral and fossil-free by 2035, calling the policy naïve and unrealistic. The Finns envision the country becoming carbon neutral in 2050 at the earliest.

‘Is this how Finland really thinks of saving itself? With green promises and throwing money at everything that sounds good?’ Finns leader Riikka Purra wrote in the party’s recent newsletter, referring to pledges by Marin’s Cabinet to increase investments in a green transition and economy.

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