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34-year-old poised to become Finnish PM

December 8, 2019

Sanna Marin, whose party is the largest in a five-member governing coalition, is set to be the country's third female leader. Marin narrowly defeated Antti Lindtman by a 32 to 29 vote in the party council.

Sanna Marin
Image: Getty Images/AFP/Lehtikuva/V. Moilanen

The Social Democrats in Finland elected deputy leader Sanna Marin as their candidate for the post of prime minister on Sunday.

Aged 34, Marin would be the Nordic nation's youngest ever leader if confirmed by parliament in a vote likely to occur next week.

Read more: From sleeping bags to their own homes

"Now we have to look ahead," Marin said, having defeated rival Antti Lindtman in a party vote. "We have a lot of work to do to restore confidence, but we have a joint government program."

Having emerged as the largest party in the aftermath of the Finnish election earlier this year, the Social Democrats are able to select one of their own to the post of prime minister in the wake of Tuesday's resignation of previous incumbent Antti Rinne.

Rinne quit after a key coalition partner, the Finnish Center Party, lost confidence in him and withdrew its support, alluding to a lack of trust.

The Center Party were also critical of the 57-year-old's handling of a two-week postal strike.

Political breakthrough, age 27

Now the frontrunner to replace Rinne, Marin has previously held the position of vice chairwoman of her party and most recently served as the minster for transport and communications, in addition to her role as deputy leader.

Marin rose quickly through the ranks of Finnish politics after becoming head of the city council in the industrial town of Tampere in 2012, at the age of 27. She has been a lawmaker since 2015. 

Like New Zealand's Jacinda Arden, Marin is also a new mother, having given birth to a daughter last year. She herself was raised by a single mother and has spoken out about how she felt discriminated against when her mother was in a same-sex relationship.

Five parties, five women

In addition to putting forward Marin as the world's youngest prime minister, the Social Democrats also announced that 32-year-old Katri Kulmuni, the head of the Center Party, would become finance minister when the final cabinet is announced this week. Kulmuni had previously served as the minister of economic affairs, a more junior position. 

Five parties currently share power in the center-left coalition, and all of them are headed up by women, most of whom are in their 30s, meaning Marin's new coalition cabinet will also be female-led.

Along with the incoming Kulmani, Green Party leader Maria Ohisalo, 34, is expected to remain the interior minister, Left Alliance chairwoman Li Andersson, 32, the education minister and Swedish People's Party leader Anna-Maja Henriksson, 55, the justice minister.   

jsi/bw (AP, Reuters, dpa)

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