Much ado about nothing — Sanna Marin and a very Finnish scandal

Lee Heidhues 8.20.2022

How quaint to learn that a Prime Minister’s attendance at a dance party rises to the level of scandal.

How reassuring to read that not every country and city sinks into the political cesspool of law and order extremism which is the current State of Play in San Francisco.

The story about Finnish Prime Minister Sanna Martin, who assumed office at the age of 34 in 2019, seems to be a real person with a life outside politics. Not caught up in the politics of destruction consuming much of America and San Francisco in particular.

Excerpted from Deutsche Welle 8.20.2022

Once again, Finland’s Prime Minister Sanna Marin made international headlines. But this time it was with a video showing her at a private party, dancing with friends.

What ensued was a very classic “Finnish scandal,” which is actually not a scandal at all, but because Finnish politics tend to be so uptight and slightly boring, you have to get creative to stir things up every once in a while.

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Finnish PM Sanna Marin and friend

It is at the same time indicative of the very high moral standards that are applied to politicians and that they are expected to live up to. Consequently, the threshold is very low for Finnish politicians to resign over what seem like rather insignificant incidents elsewhere.

For example, in 2008 then-Foreign Minister Ilkka Kanerva was sacked over a text message scandal: he had been sending text messages to a controversial female celebrity. Sanna Marin herself became prime minister after her predecessor Antti Rinne resigned over a scandal related to a post office strike.

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Sanna Marin with Ukranian President Volodymyr Zelensky

Some of the more memorable Sanna “scandals” were “breakfastgate” over her breakfast expenses or the controversy over the revelation that she likes cleaning, even the official residence, herself.

Much of the rather absurd domestic controversies smack of misogyny, as Marin has been leading Finland steadfastly through several exceptionally difficult situations, starting with the pandemic and now the NATO membership process. It is a lot to take in that a competent prime minister can be a 36-year-old woman, mother of a small child, who despite having one of the toughest jobs in the country, also manages to have a social life, go to festivals, and even to party occasionally.

Usually, the domestic “scandals” do not make international headlines. What was different this time was the allegation that she would have possibly been doing drugs.

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Finnish Prime Minister Sanna Marin

It was based on a sentence in the leaked party video that was misheard as “jauhojengi” (“flour gang”) and interpreted to mean drugs. In fact, Marin and her friends seem to be singing along to the lyrics of a Finnish pop song that mentions “jallu,” a Finnish alcoholic drink. No one would call drugs “flour” anyway in Finland, which makes the whole business even sillier.

Top Photo – Time Magazine cover March 1, 2021