Sanna Marin tapped to be Finland's next prime minister

As Antti Rinne steps down as prime minister amid criticism, Sanna Marin is expected to become the youngest government leader in the world. 

Vesa Moilanen/Lehtikuva/AP
Former minister for transport and communications Sanna Marin wins the Social Democratic Party's Prime Minister candidate vote in Helsinki, Finland, Dec. 8, 2019. Lawmakers are expected to approve her appointment, making her Finland's third female government head.

Finland's next prime minister is breaking the mold of government leaders in multiple ways.

When Sanna Marin takes over the reins of the country, likely on Tuesday, she will become the youngest leader of a government in the world – at 34 she beats Ukraine's 35-year-old prime minister, Oleksiy Honcharuk.

What's more Ms. Marin, who was tapped Sunday by Finland's ruling Social Democratic Party, will head a five-party, center-left coalition. All of her four coalition partners are led by women – and three of them are in their early 30s.

And like New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern – another government leader who is below 40 – Ms. Marin is a new mother, having given birth to her daughter Emma last year. Raised by a single mother, she has told Finnish broadcaster how she felt discriminated against when her mother was in a relationship with another woman.

A lawmaker since 2015, Ms. Marin is the party's vice chairwoman and was minister for transport and communications in the outgoing government.

Lawmakers are likely to approve the appointment of Ms. Marin and her government this week so she can represent Finland at the Dec. 12-13 EU leaders’ summit in Brussels. Finland holds the European Union's rotating presidency until the end of the year.

Antti Rinne, the incumbent prime minister whom Ms. Marin is replacing, plans to stay on as the Social Democrats' chairman until a party congress next summer.

Mr. Rinne stepped down last week after a key coalition partner, the Center Party, withdrew its support, citing lack of trust. The Center Party also criticized Mr. Rinne's leadership skills prior to a two-week strike by the country’s state-owned postal service in November that spread to other industries.

Mr. Rinne's resignation prompted the formal resignation of the coalition of the Social Democrats and the Center Party and three junior partners: the Greens, the Left Alliance, and the Swedish People's Party of Finland.

On Sunday, the same parties said they are committed to the government program agreed upon after the April election and will continue in Ms. Marin's new government, which will have a comfortable majority of 117 seats in the 200-seat Eduskunta, or Parliament.

Beside Ms. Marin, the coalition's other party leaders are Katri Kulmuni of the Center Party; the Left Alliance's Li Andersson; Maria Ohisalo of the Greens; and the head of the Swedish People’s Party, Anna-Maja Henriksson.

Ms. Marin will be Finland's third female government leader. Women have been present in politics in the Nordic region for decades and today represent half of the party leaders in Sweden. Four of Denmark's nine parties are headed by women.

Mette Frederiksen became Denmark's prime minister in June, while Erna Solberg has been Norway's head of government since 2013.

Iceland's Vigdis Finnbogadottir was the first woman to be democratically elected as head of state by voters when she defeated three men for the presidency in 1980.

Other than Ms. Marin, most posts in the government are expected to remain unchanged. Ms. Ohisalo will continue as interior minister, Ms. Andersson will be in charge of education, Ms. Kulmuni will handle the economy ministry, and Ms. Henriksson will again be the justice minister.

This story was reported by The Associated Press.

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