Finnish Prime Minister Sanna Marin dance party video sparks outrage

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Germany’s Bild newspaper called Finnish Prime Minister Sanna Marin the “coolest politician in the world” last week, calling the 36-year-old leader “casual, modern and confident” as she navigates the threat from Russia – as well as attending music festivals with her friends.

But now that reputation seems to have landed her in the water after images of Marin partying at a private event were leaked online.

A series of clips on Instagram, which appeared on Wednesday, show Marin and other partygoers piggybacking on Finnish pop music – and when the beat drops, they burst into dance.

The room is shrouded in the purple haze of neon party lights, which illuminate Marin as she hugs friends, kneels on the floor and sings along to songs.

As the videos circulated online this week, some critics called her behavior childishwhile others accused her of not focusing on the cost of living in Finland.

But many others paused and asked, What’s going on? Analysts say Marin’s age and gender — and the cross between the two — make her a particular target for criticism in a world run primarily by older men.

“I have a family life, I have a work life and I have free time to spend with my friends. Pretty much the same as many people my age,” Marin said on Thursday, the BBC reported.

She said the videos were private and filmed in a private room. “I regret that these have become known to the public,” Reuters quoted her as saying.

It was not the first time that Marin, a member of the Finnish Social Democratic Party, had been ‘caught’ at a party. In December, she apologized for another incident that left her without her cellphone at a Helsinki nightclub until 4am. While she was gone, an alert was sent to Marin’s phone letting her know she was in close contact with someone who tested positive for the coronavirus. (She didn’t get it in the end.)

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Her political rivals took advantage of the new videos this week, urging Marin to voluntarily undergo drug testing. “People can also expect this from their prime minister,” says Mikko Karna, Member of Parliament of the Center Party.

Marin fired back and told local outlet Yle she was willing to take a drug test. “I myself have not used drugs, or anything other than alcohol. I’ve danced, sang and partied and done perfectly legal things,” she added.

An editorial in the Finnish newspaper Helsingin Sanomat claimed that her partying was a security risk.

“The prime minister can, in a sensitive situation, put the weapons of information warfare in the hands of those who want to hurt Finland,” the editorial said. “There could be more leaks. If not now, then at the next party.”

Marin was the world’s youngest incumbent national leader when she was elected in 2019 at the age of 34. Her victory placed her in a small but powerful group of presidents and prime ministers elected in their thirties, including Jacinda Ardern of New Zealand and Nayib Bukele of El Salvador.

As Finnish Prime Minister, Marin succeeded Antti Rinne, who was born in 1962; and before him Juha Sipilä, born in 1961. Marin was born more than two decades later, in 1985.

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Marin’s position in the executive office alone “disrupts what people have historically felt comfortable with in terms of age and gender (older men),” Sara Angevine, a political scientist at Whittier College, said in an email.

Bettina Spencer, a professor at Saint Mary’s College, Notre Dame, In., said young female leaders are more closely monitored than their older male counterparts.

“Young leaders are not taken seriously based on age stereotypes. Women leaders are not taken seriously based on gender stereotypes. Young female leaders in particular are not taken seriously because of the intersection of their age and gender,” Spencer said.

“As such, they are more closely monitored for any behavior that reinforces the belief that they may not be ‘serious,’ and that includes simply dancing with friends at a private event,” she said.

But not everyone was critical of Marin for letting go – and applauding instead what they said was the prime minister “proving that if you work hard, you can play hard.”

Someone else on Twitter early: “Sanna Marin is the only chief executive on Earth who has documented friends.”

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