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Sanna Marin — a 34-year-old woman who is about to become the world's youngest prime minister

HELSINKI — Ms Sanna Marin, 34, is set to become the world’s youngest sitting prime minister when she is sworn in this week in Finland, whose government is dominated by young women in leadership roles.

Sanna Marin — a 34-year-old woman who is about to become the world's youngest prime minister

Ms Sanna Marin, 34, entered Finland's political scene at the age of 27.

HELSINKI — Ms Sanna Marin, 34, is set to become the world’s youngest sitting prime minister when she is sworn in this week in Finland, whose government is dominated by young women in leadership roles.

Ms Marin, who has been serving as the Minister of Transport and Communications, will be the Nordic nation’s third female prime minister — and the youngest in its history.

Ms Marin is younger than Ukraine's prime minister Oleksiy Honcharuk, 35, and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, 36.

She joins New Zealand's prime minister Jacina Arden and Belgium's prime minister Sophie Wilmes, who are among 18 female heads of state and government to take office in the last two years.

“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 said after winning a vote in her party, the centre-left Social Democratic Party (SDP), for the top job.

Finland, a nation of 5.5 million people — about the same as Singapore — but with a land area about 450 times that of Singapore, has long been a leader in the area of gender equality.

WHO IS SANNA MARIN?

Ms Marin made her political debut in 2012 at the age of 27 when she was elected to the City Council of Tampere, a city of about 200,000 people in southern Finland. In 2013, she was elected chairperson of the City Council and re-elected in 2017.

Her meteoric political rise continued when she was elected to the national parliament in Helsinki in 2015 under the SDP.

In June this year, she was appointed Transport and Communications Minister, and pushed for a sustainable reimagination of the ministry’s strategic focuses, leading the ministry under the motto: Smart connections for sustainable growth.

Ms Marin — considered a left-leaning liberal — also helmed a 12-year national transport system plan that considered issues such as the environmental impact of the transport system.

WHY THE CHANGE IN LEADERSHIP?

Just six months into his term, former prime minister Antti Rinne faced heavy criticism over his leadership in dealing with a two-week strike of a government-owned postal service Posti in November.

Mr Rinne, a former trade union leader, was the leader of the SDP, the largest of five parties making up Finland’s coalition government. He stepped down from the top job when one of the other parties, the Centre Party, said that it had lost confidence in him.

Ms Marin, who was voted in by the SDP, is expected to be confirmed as the new prime minister by parliament this week.

WHAT DOES THIS MEAN FOR THE COALITION GOVERNMENT?

The four other parties in the coalition government are also led by women. Ms Li Anderson, 32, leads the Left Alliance; Ms Katri Kulmuni, 32, is chief of the Centre Party; Ms Maria Ohisalo, 34, heads the Green League; and Ms Anna-Maja Henriksson, 55, leads the Swedish People’s Party.

The leaders of the five parties making up Finland's coalition government are all women, four of them under the age of 35. Photo: Twitter

With Mr Rinne out of the picture, the change in leadership in the Finnish government leaves the status of the current coalition agreement uncertain, but the ruling coalition has recently said that that all parties have agreed to continue the status quo.

“We have a joint government programme which glues the coalition together,” Ms Marin said.

The National Coalition Party, an opposition party, has requested that all parties be allowed to join talks to form the next government.

WHAT’S NEXT FOR FINLAND?

The timing of the change in leadership is awkward as Finland holds the rotating presidency of the Council of the European Union (EU) which ends on Dec 31.

Finnish lawmakers face a tight deadline to approve Ms Marin and her new government ahead of the next EU leaders’ summit in Brussels, Belgium on Dec 12.

Ms Marin’s leadership skills at home will be tested, given the upcoming labour negotiations with potential for strikes, the New York Times reported.

The government she leads is expected to continue prioritising job creation and ambitious climate goals, seeking to render Finland carbon-neutral by 2035, the paper said.

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Finland prime minister Sanna Marin Politics

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