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Who is Sanna Marin, only 34, and set to be the world’s youngest Prime Minister?

Sanna Marin is the new Prime Minister of Finland. All five parties in Finland's ruling coalition are led by women, and four of them are in their early thirties. The ruling coalition is Centre-Left in political orientation.

By: Explained Desk | New Delhi | Updated: December 11, 2019 9:33:43 am
Explained: Who is Sanna Marin, only 34, and set to be the world's youngest Prime Minister? Prime Minister-elect Marin, who Finnish media said was likely to take charge by December 13, will be Finland’s third woman head of government. (Twitter/@MarinSanna)

The Finnish politician Sanna Marin, her country’s Transport Minister, will soon become the world’s youngest Prime Minister, the country’s media, including its biggest newspaper ‘Helsingin Sanomat’ and the tabloid ‘Ilta-Sanomat’ have reported.

Marin was born in November 1985, and at 34, is more than five years younger than New Zealand’s Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, 39.

The Finnish broadcaster YLE said the Prime Minister-elect was raised by a single mother, and was the first person in her family to go to university.

How did Marin get the job?

The Transport Minister was chosen by Finland’s Social Democratic Party to succeed Prime Minister Antti Rinne who on December 3 announced he was resigning in the face of criticism over the government’s handling of a postal strike that lasted two weeks in November.

The strike also drew in the national carrier Finnair, whose workers went on a day’s strike in support of the postal workers, leading to some 300 flights being cancelled.

Both Rinne, who became Prime Minister in June this year, and his Social Democratic colleague Sirpa Paatero, were accused of providing inaccurate information to the country over the working conditions of package handlers for the national postal service, Posti.

Paatero, who was the Minister in charge of state-owned companies, resigned a few days ahead of Rinne.

Prime Minister-elect Marin, who Finnish media said was likely to take charge by December 13, will be Finland’s third woman head of government, after Prime Ministers Anneli Jäätteenmäki (2003) and Mari Kiviniemi (2010-11).

Marin will lead a five-party coalition comprising, besides the Social Democrats, who are the largest party in Finland’s parliament, the Left Alliance, the Green League, the Centre Party, and the Swedish People’s Party of Finland.

Who are her coalition partners?

Remarkably, all five parties in Finland’s government are led by women, and four of them are in their early thirties. The ruling coalition is Centre-Left in political orientation.

Two of the women leaders in the group are younger than even Marin — both Katri Kulmuni of the Centre Party and Li Andersson of the Left Alliance are only 32. Kulmuni, who was born in September 1987, is a few months younger than Andersson.

Maria Ohissalo of the Green League is, like Marin, 34. Anna-Maja Henriksson, leader of the Swedish People’s Party of Finland, is 55.

Prime Minister-elect Marin told reporters: “I have never thought about my age or gender, I think of the reasons I got into politics and those things for which we have won the trust of the electorate… We have a lot of work to do to rebuild trust.”

Who are the world’s other young heads of government?

Ukraine’s Prime Minister Oleksiy Honcharuk is 35, but in the Ukrainian political system, the post of the directly elected President (currently occupied by Volodymyr Zelensky, who is at the centre of impeachment proceedings under way against President Donald Trump in the United States) is more powerful.

North Korea’s leader Kim Jong-un is said to be 35, too.

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar of Ireland is 40; Prime Minister Jüri Ratas of Estonia and President Emmanuel Macron of France are both 41; and Prime Minister Marjan Šarec of Slovenia and Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen of Denmark are both 42.

The world’s oldest sitting head of government is Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad of Malaysia, 94.

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