How has Finland’s Sanna Marin transformed her country

In 2019 Sanna Marin became the World’s youngest serving Prime Minister at the age of 34. She is the fourth female Prime Minister of Finland, running the government of a five-party coalition with all-female party-leaders. 

Photo credits to Laura Kotila/Valtioneuvoston kanslia

Sanna Marin entered Finnish politics at the age of 27. She was the head of the city council of Tampere, her hometown. Marin has been a member of the Social Democratic Party of Finland since 2015 and served as the Minister of Transport and Communication until being appointed as the Prime Minister, after Antti Rinne’s resignation

Marin’s Policies

She took the spotlight after proposing exceptionally progressive agenda on climate change and gender equality.

Marin’s government has adopted strategic goals with which they will “set about building a socially, economically and ecologically sustainable Finland”.

The government prioritized protecting biodiversity promised to become carbon neutral by 2035. Retaining the title of the safest country is also one of the top priorities of the government, which must be ensured by respecting the rule of law and guaranteeing internal and external security. Labor market equality, fair and inclusive policies, and good governance comprise the bulk of the program. But the Pandemic seems to create challenges for the new government.

Response to the Pandemic

The first year in the office was dedicated to fighting the COVID-19 crisis, which significantly hindered implementing innovative policies that were promised by the cabinet.

Unlike Sweden, Finland was widely praised for its successful response to the COVID-19. The government swiftly took action and declared a nation-wide lockdown as early as March 16. Experts attribute success to Marin’s “very clear communication skill” and reliance on outside expertise.

The study shows how female-led countries attained significantly better outcomes in tackling the COVID-19 crisis due to exceptional communication style and maintaining a careful balance between human life and the country’s economy.

Regardless of early success, the female-led cabinet is facing stringent criticism over response to the COVID-19. Finland, like the rest of the EU countries, is confronting the second wave of the pandemic. Apparently, the organization and collaboration between the ministers were inadequate and meager. As a result, the populist Finns Party is considerably growing more popular among the Finnish people as shown by the YLE national broadcast polls.

The Council of Europe’s Commission against Racism and Intolerance called on Finland to “tackle growing racist and intolerant hate speech” and “better coordinate integration activities for immigrants”. Finland’s transgender policies are also perceived as torment by international institutions as it requires transgender people to become sterilized after changing gender.

Despite a step back, the Social Democratic Party still managed to pursue more tolerant and progressive gender policies. Moreover, the government is advocating for a new parental leave policy that would grant fathers and mothers an equal amount of parental leave.

Considering such an ambivalent picture, it is not easy to judge how the current government is handling its first year. The hardship of enduring the pandemic crisis is yet to come and the young Prime Minister will have to prove the effectiveness of her cabinet.