Finland’s new prime minister, about to become the world’s youngest serving premier, will have a finance minister two years her junior in a new women-led coalition cabinet, party officials said yesterday.
Sanna Marin, 34, from the dominant Social Democrats, was chosen by her party as the sole candidate for prime minister on Sunday. Centre Party chief Katri Kulmuni, 32, will get the finance post, party members said.
Finland was one of the first country in Europe to give women voting rights back in 1906 and the first country in the world to vote women to parliament in 1907. Marin will be the third female to head the government. Marin, who has spoken about growing up in a disadvantaged family, is a left-winger within her party and a strong defender of Finland’s generous welfare state.
Finland’s government resigned last week after the Centre Party said it had lost confidence in Social Democrat Prime Minister Antti Rinne over his handling of a postal strike. The five parties in power, four of them led by women decided to stay in coalition and continue with the same programs, but said there would be a reshuffle.
Marin will take over in the middle of labour unrest and a wave of strikes which will halt production at some of Finland’s largest companies from yesterday. The Confederation of Finnish Industries estimates the strikes will cost the companies a combined 500 million euros ($550 million) in lost revenue.
Marin has had a swift rise in Finnish politics since becoming head of the city council of her industrial hometown of Tampere at the age of 27. “I myself have never thought about my age or my gender, but rather about the issues for which I took on politics and about the reasons for which we were trusted in the elections, the former transport minister told public broadcaster YLE after being picked as the prime minister candidate by her party.
Political scientist Jenni Karimaki of Turku University said the new government reflected what voters had wanted in last April’s election, with many new young women and men voted into parliament.
“There are more women in the parliament’s composition than ever before…Voters and citizens wish to see more women in top positions, bearing even the heaviest responsibilities the society can offer,” she told Reuters. “For the world it’s interesting that they are young, and that they are all female. For Finland, this is not a sensation,” said political commentator Risto Uimonen.