At 34, Finland's Sanna Marin Set To Become World's Youngest Sitting Prime Minister

Dec 9, 2019

Sanna Marin is set to become Finland's third female prime minister — and its youngest — leading a coalition of four other parties, all headed by women.

At just 34, she will also stand out on the world stage by being the world's youngest sitting prime minister.

Marin was nominated Sunday by her Social Democratic party after its leader, Antti Rinne, stepped down after losing the confidence among his coalition government over his handling of a postal strike.

Marin, a former transport and communications minister, will be the country's third-ever female prime minister, according to NPR's Rob Schmitz. However, she told reporters the focus shouldn't be on her identity.

"She brushed away questions about her age and gender, saying she has never thought about either," Schmitz says. "Instead, she told reporters, she thinks about the reasons she got into politics and the things for which her party has won the trust of the electorate."

Finland's Social Democrats have led the country's left-wing coalition since earlier this year, but has faced strong opposition from the rising populist right-wing Finns Party, according to the Helsinki Times. Ahead of the party election, Marin promised to continue supporting welfare programs and an "equal and fairer society."

A left-leaning progressive, Marin was first elected to Parliament in 2015. She wrote on her website that her party's values of "equality, freedom and peace" appealed to her when she first involved herself in politics.

"For me, human rights, equality, or equality of people have never been questions of opinion but the basis of my moral conception," she said. "I joined politics because I want to influence how society sees its citizens and their rights."

Marin won the party's nomination over Antti Lindtman, a 37-year-old Parliament member, by a vote of 32-29.

As prime minister, Marin would maintain an alliance between the Social Democrats and four other center-left parties — all of which have women in leading ministerial positions. Among the five leaders, four, including Marin, are under 35.

Once sworn in, Marin will be Finland's youngest-ever head of state. However, she is not the youngest in world history. Conservative British politician William Pitt, for example, became prime minister at the age of 24 in 1783.

Finland currently holds the European Union's rotating presidency, and members of parliament are likely to approve the new government ahead of an EU summit in Brussels Thursday.

Paolo Zialcita is an intern on NPR's News Desk.

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