Source: Helsinki

She is in the news because… the Finnish head of government has discredited herself after a night of drinking and dancing showing that she is above measures that ordinary Finns have to adhere to.

Finnish Social Democratic Prime Minister Sanna Marin evidently became tired of the all onerous pandemic stuff. Gossip magazine Seiska captured the 36-year-old prime minister with husband and friends in “at least two bars”, where she allegedly drank Heineken until dawn and had a blast on the dance floor.

She probably should not have done that. On Friday, the day before her wild night out, Marin had been in contact with a minister who had tested positive for the Corona virus during a cabinet meeting. The Prime Minister was informed about this at around a quarter past seven in the evening before she decided to become a virus superspreader.

Marin simply ignored the notice issued to quarantine herself. She later explained on Twitter that she had not been told to take extra precautions as if a country’s leader needs some parenting. “I was told that it does not cause any special measures,” Marin told Helsingin Sanomat.

Ignoring her own guidelines

Under current Covid guidelines in Finland, double-vaccinated people do not need to isolate themselves if they have come into contact with an infected person. Nevertheless, the advice is to avoid social contact while you are waiting for a test result.

However, given their exemplary role, ministers and other ministers are expected to isolate themselves as much as possible after exposure to an infected person. At the time of Marin’s night out, this new directive had been in effect for at least two weeks.

The prime minister nevertheless stated that she had not been informed of this, even though an explicit SMS had been then sent to all ministers.

What followed was a cacophony about whether or not the Prime Minister knew she should have stayed indoors. It read like a Scandinavian detective novel: At 8pm and later at 10pm, she is said to have received a self-isolation text message on her government phone. According to Marin, she had left the phone at home. She allegedly only had her parliamentary telephone in her pocket – the telephone with which she had previously been told about the ministerial infection – but it had been on silent for the rest of Saturday evening.

Then a mea culpa followed the next day after it became clear that pretending not to have known about her own government’s decrees would no longer work. “I should have used my own judgment and kept away from people as a precaution,” Marin said. “I didn’t behave in the best possible way.”

Opposition politicians know the PM is a joke

The opposition accused the prime minister of indifferent and non-transparent behaviour. It is not the first time that Marin hears these misgivings about her tenure. Earlier this year, she came under fire for the so-called “breakfast gate” when it was revealed that she had claimed about 850 euros per month in “breakfast costs”. In August she paid back the total amount of more than 14 000 euros.

And in October 2020, she was criticized after publishing an interview accompanied by an almost nude portrait in a lifestyle magazine. In the photo she is wearing a jacket without anything underneath. Critics thought it was inappropriate to have a prime minister in a revealing outfit in a glossy fashion magazine, and wanted to know whether she did not have anything better to do in the midst of a pandemic.

Supporters of the prime minister dismissed that criticism as “sexist” because young women should also be taken seriously even if they are only half dressed.

Yet Marin remains the undisputed head of government. She has lasted longer than her two female predecessors; they both resigned within a year while Marin has been in power for two years now.

Superspreader Marin also attended journalist Ina Mikkola’s book release in Helsinki. In a picture from the event, Marin poses with Janne Raninen, also known as “Solvalla-Janne”, which caused quite a stir on social media. Raninen was released in March 2021 after being imprisoned since 1998, convicted of two murders.

The criticism against Marin came from the True Finns and the National Coalition Party, among others.

“Is there anything here that seems credible? Can it really be that the Prime Minister’s security unit in these times is not available to instruct Prime Minister Sanna Marin? All sorts of things can happen during that time,” remarked MP Timo Heinonen (Saml) on Twitter.

The former chairman of the True Finns, Member of Parliament Jussi Halla-aho, wondered why Marin was behaving in this way.

“Why is the Prime Minister behaving in a way that would lead to her resignation in any other civilized state? The simple answer: because she can. For the past two years, she has learned that she is untouchable. There is nothing the media would not explain away on her behalf.”