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Sanna Marin, Finland’s partying PM, defends right to private life: ‘I am human’

The Social Democrat leader maintains that she should be judged on her work as head of the government and not on her private life

Sanna Marin
Sanna Marin on Wednesday, August 24, at a Social Democratic Party event in the Finnish city of Lahti.LEHTIKUVA (via REUTERS)

On the verge of tears, Sanna Marin, Finland’s prime minister, responded to the week-long criticism over videos and photographs of her at private parties. “I am a human being,” she said. “Sometimes I also long for joy, light and fun amidst the dark clouds.”

At an event organized by her Social Democratic Party (SDP) on Wednesday, August 24, in the city of Lahti, in the south of Finland, Marin asked to be judged on her work as the country’s leader and not on what she does in her private life.

A day earlier, Marin had apologized after the publication of a photograph taken at the prime minister’s official residence showing two well-known influencers in the country kissing topless, with a Finland sign obscuring their breasts. The image reignited a controversy that seemed to have been put to bed the previous day after Marin announced she had tested negative in a drug test. The test was taken three days earlier on the insistence of several opposition politicians, who claimed that in one of the videos showing Marin letting her hair down with well-known society figures, a partygoer could be heard alluding to cocaine.

“I haven’t missed a single day of work,” Marin said in her defense on Wednesday. “I want to believe people will look at what we do at work rather than what we do in our spare time. I don’t see any problem in us enjoying ourselves in the company of our friends.” Marin acknowledged that the week had proven “quite difficult” for her.

Two 'influencers' kissed at the official residence of the Finnish prime minister.
Two 'influencers' kissed at the official residence of the Finnish prime minister.

Several police sources and criminology experts have since explained that there was no clear indication that drugs were being taken at the private party in the footage in question. Drug use and possession for personal use are a criminal offense in Finland, subject to a fine or, in exceptional cases, by imprisonment for up to six months.

The Helsinki police have confirmed that they have received three complaints regarding the videos but, as there is no indication of law-breaking on behalf of the prime minister or her friends, and there will be no investigation.

Marin, 36, became the world’s youngest female head of government in 2019. She has since given the role her own individual twist: “I want to show that there are normal people with normal lives in these jobs,” she said recently. Shortly before the release of the controversial videos this summer, the leader caused a furor on the internet with the publication of images of her attending a music festival in a leather jacket, denim shorts and combat boots.

In December, Marin apologized after local media reported that she had gone out partying just hours after her foreign minister, environmentalist Pekka Haavisto, had tested positive for Covid-19. Marin explained that, while out, she received two text messages advising her to self-isolate for having been in close contact with Haavisto, but did not see them until the following day as she had left her work cellphone at home.

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