Is a PM allowed to party?
In a leaked video, Finnish Prime Minister Sanna Marin is seen dancing and singing with friends at a private party. The 36-year-old leader poses for the camera. She is sitting on her knees, her hands behind her head. She is entangled in a group hug. She is having a good time.
Countless similar videos are shared daily on social media by young and old partying in Finland and around the world. But the leak has sparked a debate among Finns about the inappropriate level of rejoicing for a prime minister, especially given neighboring Russia’s attack on Ukraine, which has prompted long-neutral Finland and Sweden. to apply for NATO membership.
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Marin, who leads the center-left Social Democratic Party, faced a barrage of questions about the party: Were there drugs? Alcohol? Was she working or was she on summer vacation? Was the Prime Minister sober enough to handle an emergency if such an emergency had occurred?
The video, clearly shot by someone at the party, was leaked on social media and caught the attention of Finnish media this week. Marin said she had attended the party for the past few weeks, but declined to say exactly where or when.
She also acknowledged that she and her friends celebrated in a “noisy” way and that alcohol – but, to her knowledge, no drugs – was involved. She said on Friday she took a drug test to end speculation about illegal substances.
“I hope in 2022 it’s accepted that even decision makers dance and sing and go to parties,” Marin told reporters. “I did not want any images to be released, but it is up to voters to decide what they think of it.”
In Helsinki on Friday afternoon, opinions were divided. Josua Fagerholm, who works in marketing, said the episode was potentially damaging to Finland’s reputation and public trust in Finnish politicians. Mintuu Kylliainen, a student in Helsinki, disagreed. She said everyone is entitled to their opinion, but she felt the leaked video drew too much attention.
Some supporters said the criticism of the prime minister smacks of sexism.
Anu Koivonen, professor of gender studies at Finland’s University of Turku, said she did not believe gender was a decisive factor in the uproar over the leaked video. She said the party itself wasn’t a big deal, but the fact that the video leaked could be seen as a lack of judgment by the prime minister when it came to who she surrounded herself with.
“That she didn’t hold back in a business where she can’t trust everyone in the room,” Koivonen said. “I think that’s the main problem at the moment.”