Finland’s transport minister, Sanna Marin, has been selected to lead the Social Democratic Party, making her the country’s youngest prime minister ever.
The 34-year-old Marin, whose party is the largest in a five-member governing coalition, will be the world’s youngest serving prime minister when she takes office in the coming days. She is also Finland’s third female government leader BBC NEWS reports.
Having emerged as Finland’s largest party in the April election, the Social Democrats can appoint one of their own to the post of prime minister in the Nordic nation of 5.5m people.
Her appointment comes after Antti Rinne resigned on Tuesday after a party in the coalition said it had lost confidence in him following his handling of a postal strike.
“We have a lot of work ahead to rebuild trust,” Marin told reporters after winning a narrow vote among the party leadership.
“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.”
Four other parties in Finland’s coalition government are also led by women: the Left Alliance is led by Li Anderson, 32; the Green League is led by Maria Ohisalo, 34; the Centre Party is led by Katri Kulmuni, 32; and Anna-Maja Henriksson, 55, is head of the Swedish People’s party.
According to Finland’s biggest newspaper Helsingin Sanomat and the Ilta-Sanomat tabloid, Marin will become the world’s youngest sitting prime minister. New Zealand’s prime minister, Jacinda Ardern, is 39, and the PM of Ukraine, Oleksiy Honcharuk is 35. North Korea’s leader, Kim Jong-un is reported to be 35.
— Tuomas Niskakangas (@TNiskakangas) December 8, 2019
Marin has had swift rise in Finnish politics since becoming head of the city council of her industrial hometown of Tampere at the age of 27.
She will take over in the middle of a three-day wave of strikes, which will halt production at some of Finland’s largest companies from Monday. The Confederation of Finnish Industries estimates the strikes will cost the companies a combined €500m ($550m) in lost revenue.
The centre-left coalition, which took office just six months ago, has agreed to continue with its political programme stressing a shift to carbon neutrality after Rinne announced he was stepping down at the demand of the Centre Party.
“We have a joint government programme which glues the coalition together,” Marin said.
The timing of the change in leadership is awkward for Finland, which holds the rotating presidency of the European Union until the end of the year, playing a central role in efforts to hammer out a new budget for the bloc.
Lawmakers are likely to approve the appointment of Marin and her new government quickly so she can represent Finland at the 12 Dec EU leaders’ summit in Brussels.