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Foreign

Finland Minister Sanna Marin, 34, To Become World’s Youngest Prime Minister

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Sanna Marin holding flowers
Sanna Marin will become the world’s youngest sitting PM

 

Sanna Marin is to become the world’s youngest prime minister at the age of 34 – and will head a women-led coalition government in Finland.

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The transportation minister was picked by her Social Democratic party to take charge after PM Antti Rinne quit. She is expected to be sworn in this week.

She will lead a centre-left coalition of five parties, all headed by women.

Mr Rinne stepped down after losing the confidence of a coalition member over his handling of a postal strike.

When she takes office, Ms Marin will be the world’s youngest sitting prime minister. New Zealand PM Jacinda Ardern is 39, while Ukrainian premier Oleksiy Honcharuk is 35.

What is Ms Marin’s background?

Media reports say Sanna Marin was raised in a “rainbow family”, living in a rented apartment with her mother and her mother’s female partner. She told the Menaiset website (in Finnish) in 2015 that as a child she felt “invisible” because she was unable to talk openly about her family.

But she said her mother had always been supportive and made her believe she could do anything she wanted.

She was the first person in her family to go to university.

Ms Marin rose quickly through the ranks of the Social Democrats, heading the city administration in Tampere at the age of 27 and becoming an MP in 2015.

She has been transport and communications minister since June and has a 22-month-old daughter.

What direction is she likely to take?

There are unlikely to be any major policy changes, as the coalition agreed a programme when it took office.

However, Ms Marin, who won the leadership vote by a narrow margin, made it clear it would not be business as usual.

“We have a lot of work to do to rebuild trust,” she told reporters.

She brushed away questions about her age, saying: “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.”

Ms Marin will be the third female prime minister in the Nordic country. The Social Democrats emerged as the largest party in elections held in April, and so can appoint the prime minister who leads the coalition government.

Mr Rinne stepped down after a plan to cut wages for hundreds of postal workers led to widespread strikes. Coalition member, the Centre Party, said it had lost confidence in him.

Meanwhile, the party said Katri Kulmuni would be named as finance minister. The 32-year-old took over as its leader in September.

Four of the five female party leaders in the coalition are under 35.

Finland currently holds the European Union’s rotating presidency, and MPs are likely to approve the new government ahead of the EU summit in Brussels on 12 December.

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