Social Democrats elect PM Sanna Marin as party leader

Finnish Prime Minister and newly elected Chair of The Social Democratic Party (SDP) of Finland, Sanna Marin speaks at the 46th Social Democratic convention in Tampere, Finland, on Sunday

Finland’s Prime Minister Sanna Marin has assumed the leadership of her own party eight months after taking the top job in the Nordic nation in December, when she became the world’s youngest serving head of government at 34.

The Social Democratic Party, Finland’s largest party and one of the nation’s key political establishments, unanimously elected Marin on Sunday as the second female chair in its history. She replaces Antti Rinne, who had led the party since 2014 and who resigned as prime minister in December following a series of domestic political disputes.

The highly popular Marin, who is heading a center-left coalition government of five parties all led by women, has emerged as the face of the millennial generation in Finland. She was the only candidate running for the post and no vote was needed.

“Thank you for your trust, I will try to be worth it. Life cannot be planned in advance and it must be taken as it is. Every situation has to be faced and one has to do one’s best regardless of the circumstances,” Marin said.

Marin’s eight-month tenure has been largely dominated by the coronavirus pandemic — and her cool, calm handling of the country’s outbreak has earned her wide praise. Finland, a nation of 5.5 million, has had only 334 confirmed virus deaths so far. Among other issues, Marin is a noted advocate for environmental issues and women’s rights.

The Social Democrats held a party congress over the weekend in the southern city of Tampere, where Marin launched her political career. The party has held the top spot in recent polls with over 20% support. It scored a narrow win in the April 2019 general election with 17.7% of the vote.

Earlier this month, Marin announced that she had married her long-time partner, Markus Raikkonen, with whom she has a 2 1/2-year-old daughter.

At the time Marin took over the prime minister’s post, she was the world’s youngest serving head of government. She lost that distinction a few weeks later with the return to power of Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz, who turns 34 on Aug. 27.

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