Sanna Marin: The Youngest PM in the History of Finland

Illustrated by Jeannette Khouri
Illustrated by Jeannette Khouri

Sanna Marin: The Youngest PM in the History of Finland

Sanna Mirella Marin, 36, is a Finnish politician who has served as the prime minister of Finland since 2019. Taking office at the age of 34, she is the youngest person to hold the office in Finnish history and the world's third-youngest state leader after Dritan Abazović of Montenegro and Gabriel Boric of Chile.

Marin is a member of the Social Democratic Party of Finland (SDP) and has been a Member of Parliament since 2015. Following Antti Rinne's resignation in the wake of the postal strike controversy, Marin was selected as prime minister on December 8, 2019.

Recently, the Finnish PM found herself amid controversy after a video of her partying and dancing with friends was leaked on social media. To clear suspicions after the publication of the party video footage, Marin took a drug test and tested negative on August 22, 2022. "I did nothing illegal," she told reporters, reiterating that she has never done drugs.

She was born on November 16, 1985, in Helsinki. She lived in Espoo and Pirkkala before moving to Tampere. Her parents separated when she was very young. The family faced financial problems, and Marin's father, Lauri Marin, struggled with alcoholism.

Marin graduated from Pirkkala High School in 2004 at the age of 19. She worked in a bakery and as a cashier while studying, graduating with a bachelor's and master's degree in Administrative Science from the University of Tampere.

In January 2018, Sanna Marin and her partner Markus Räikkönen had a daughter. In August 2020, Marin and her partner, who works in communication, married at the Prime Minister's official residence Kesaranta.

The BBC described Marin's political career as "beginning at the age of 20," in the years following her high school graduation and beginning her affiliation with the Social Democratic Youth. Marin joined the Social Democratic Youth in 2006 and was its first vice president from 2010 to 2012. In 2008, she unsuccessfully ran for election to the City Council of Tampere, but she stood again and was elected in the 2012 elections. She became chairman of the City Council within months, serving from 2013 to 2017. In 2017, she was re-elected to the City Council. She first gained prominence after videos of her chairing contentious meetings were shared on YouTube.

Marin was elected second deputy chairman of the Social Democratic Party (SDP) in 2014. In 2015, she was elected to the Finnish Parliament as an MP from the electoral district of Pirkanmaa. Four years later, she was re-elected. On June 6, 2019, she became the Minister of Transport and Communications.

In December 2019, Marin was nominated by the Social Democratic Party to succeed Antti Rinne as the Prime Minister of Finland, but Rinne formally remained party leader until June 2020. In a narrow vote, Marin prevailed over Antti Lindtman. Most of the ministers in her five-party cabinet are women. She is the third female head of government in Finland, after Anneli Jäätteenmäki and Mari Kiviniemi.

Marin became Finland's youngest-ever prime minister and was the youngest serving state leader until Sebastian Kurz gained that distinction in January 2020.

In March 2021, Marin condemned the persecution of ethnic Uyghurs in the Chinese province of Xinjiang. In a New Year’s address at the start of 2022, she stated that Finland had the right to join NATO if it wanted to and should consider this option. This action caused an adverse reaction from the Russian media.

On May 15, Niinistö and Marin announced that Finland would apply for NATO membership, and on May 17, the Finnish Parliament approved the proposal 188-8.

On May 26, 2022, Marin went to Kyiv at the invitation of Ukrainian Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal, where she met President Volodymyr Zelenskyy. She also signed a bilateral framework agreement on rebuilding Ukraine's education with Ukrainian PM Denys Shmyhal.

On May 31, she welcomed a deal agreed by all EU leaders to ban more than 90% of Russian oil imports by the end of the year, voting for it in the European Council.

Marin was on the list of the BBC's 100 Women announced on November 23, 2020. On December 9, 2020, she was selected by Forbes to rank 85th on the list of The World's 100 Most Powerful Women. In 2020 she became a Young Global Leader of the World Economic Forum. Marin was selected for the cover of Time magazine's "Time100 Next" theme issue, which showcases one hundred influential leaders worldwide. The German newspaper Bild has praised Marin as the "coolest politician in the world."

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