When Finland, a progressive, parliamentary republic that regularly tops “best places to live” polls, swore in Sanna Marin, 34, this week, she became the country’s—and the world’s—youngest prime minister. She joins New Zealand’s Jacinda Ardern, 39, and Ukrainian Prime Minister Oleksiy Honcharuk, 35, as heads of government in their 30s. A Social Democrat, she is the third woman to hold the post, and she leads a coalition government of four female-led parties. Marin, a millennial raised by two mothers, is personally invested in forwarding causes like equality and environmentalism.
No greenhorn, Marin has been active in Finnish politics since 2012 and is well respected. Marin’s election contributes to the conversation about the place of age in politics, a major talking point of the 2020 U.S. presidential election, in which a generation separates the oldest and youngest candidates. With several Democratic candidates in their 70s, and President Trump himself aged 73, the election’s outcome could result in America having its oldest elected president ever. (Conversely, Theodore Roosevelt was 42 when he took office following the assassination of William McKinley; at 43, John F. Kennedy was the youngest elected president.)
Maturity isn’t a synonym for wisdom. The question is, does it mean politics as usual? Disruption has been a keyword of the 2010s—what form that concept will take in the politics of the new decade, and if Marin will usher in a new, more compassionate, age of politics remains to be seen, but it’s exciting to see her being given the chance to try.
“You know, we’ve had a female president and a female prime minister before, but even for a liberal Nordic country this is a positive sign of change,” Tuomas Laitinen, senior lecturer at Aalto University’s department of design, tells Vogue. “The new generation is coming. Marin’s background and also the issues that matter to her say a lot about the Finland of today. She’s living proof for all the young people that they can influence and succeed and still stay true to their values and keep their integrity. In a world full of populist politicians and manufactured news we need more people like her.”
“In the current political turmoil that’s taking over the world, mainly dominated by old men, Marin feels like a fresh new breeze. Her being a young woman doesn’t really have much to do with it though: That should be, and is, the most natural thing—just like the fellow Finns are taking it,” observes Finnish artist and designer Kustaa Saksi. “More than anything, Marin’s election shows the Finnish system works: Everyone truly has equal possibilities to reach any goal in their lives, no matter their social background or status. I think that’s the kind of freedom we should be proud of.”
Source: Vogue/ CRN