The era of the world’s youngest prime minister has come to an end following the announcement of the results of the just concluded parliamentary elections in Finland. The social democratic party and the party of the current prime minister, 37-year-old Sanna Marin, could not get the majority of seats in parliament.
The National Coalition Party (NCP) was declared the winner of the closely contested election after winning 20.8% of the available seats and was closely followed by the Finns, which got 20.1% of the seats. Sanna Marin’s party came third with 29.9% of the parliamentary seats. With the result, 53-year-old Petteri Orpo, the leader of the NCP, would become the next prime minister of Finland.
“We got the biggest mandate,” Petteri Orpo said in Finland’s capital, Helsinki, on Sunday. “Based on this result, talks over forming a new government in Finland will be initiated under the leadership of the National Coalition Party.”
Over 2,400 candidates from 22 parties vied for the 200 available seats in the Eduskunta, Finland’s Parliament. The NCP got 48 seats, the Finns, a party that opposes immigration and the European Union agenda, got 46 seats, and the ruling-Social Democratic party got 43 seats.
Sanna Marin concedes defeat
Following the result of the closely contested election, Prime Minister Sanna Marin has congratulated Mr Orpo for his victory, stating that “Democracy has spoken.”
“Congratulations to the winner of the elections, congratulations to the National Coalition Party, congratulations to The Finns Party. Democracy has spoken,” Sanna Marin told party members in Finland’s capital of Helsinki.
“We have gained support, we have gained more seats [in parliament]. That is an excellent achievement, even if we did not finish first today,” Ms Marin added.
Marin was selected to be prime minister on December 8 2019, following the resignation of the country’s former leader, Antti Rinnie. She was 34 at the time, making her the youngest person to become prime minister of the Nordic European country and the world’s fourth-youngest leader of all time.
Marin became popular internationally following her unequivocal support for Ukraine amid the war with Russia and her advocacy in ensuring that Finland successfully joined NATO despite threats from Moscow.
Despite her international acceptance, Sanna Marin was not so popular at home and there are some controversies surrounding her time as prime minister. She and her family were accused of spending too much on groceries and catering services. She also came under criticism for partying during the Covid-19 lockdown.
Last year, a video of the young prime minister partying with friends in Helsinki broke the internet. Marin was seen dancing with friends causing critics to question her decision-making ability at that point if the country was invaded. Her supporters quickly defended her, saying being a prime minister should not prevent a young lady from having some fun.
She would later take a drug test to clear all doubts that she was in a good state of mind. Despite the controversies surrounding her time as prime minister, the 37-year-old has no doubt written her name in the books of history as the youngest prime minister of Finland and one of the youngest leaders the world has ever seen.
What would Orpo do differently?
The result of the election shows that the majority of Finnish want a change. However, it appears that there are only a few things the NCP and its leader, Oppo, would be able to do differently. Domestically, Petteri Orpo could cut spending and fix the economy as promised. However, he would have to start by negotiating with all parties to find a way to form a majority government as his party did not win up to 50% of the seats.
Internationally, it appears that there would be insignificant changes in the country’s foreign policies and international relations. Like Marin, Orpo has vowed to provide support for Ukraine and continue with the country’s goal of becoming a part of NATO.
“First to Ukraine: we stand by you, with you. We cannot accept this terrible war. And we will do all that is needed to help Ukraine, Ukrainian people, because they fight for us,” Orpo said in his victory speech.
“And the message to Putin is: go away from Ukraine because you will lose,” Orpo added.