In Finland, a progressive prime minister basked in worldwide acclaim lavished upon her by proponents of a “rules-based international order” while harshly dismissing an emerging populist rival party as “openly racist” for opposing the lax immigration policies so preponderant in the West today. On April 2, she lost her job.
Sanna Marin has been hailed as a “global progressive icon” since assuming office in 2019 at the age of 34, making her at the time the youngest prime minister in the world. Combining fashionably woke sensibilities on environmentalism and sexual identity politics with a determination to entrench Finland within transnational governing bodies made Marin a natural star in Western globalist circles.
Marin provided a vibrant fresh face to boost like-minded but far less popular leaders such as US President Joe Biden, French President Emmanuel Macron, and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. She helped steer Finland into NATO, putting the military alliance even closer to the doorstep of Russia, and her tough talk against Russian President Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine earned her gushing comparisons to former UK Prime Minister Margaret “Iron Lady” Thatcher.
“The world today is a very different place than it was three years ago,” Marin told CNN in January while attending the annual gathering of the World Economic Forum in Davos. “And right now, the war is not only concerning Ukraine but actually the whole world. The rule-based order is being challenged more and more. Authoritarian regimes are taking more stand in the world and the democratic values are challenged. And this is the new reality. The geopolitical reality that we are in, and we have to face that.”
On Feb. 1, the Finnish parliament passed a law making it “it substantially easier for [transgender] people to change their legal gender,” Euronews reported. “Marin had said the law was a priority for her government,” the news site noted. More international praise quickly ensued. Powerful NGO Amnesty International hailed the new law as “a major victory for equality.”
Did Global Progressive Narrative Fail Her in Finland?
But somewhere along the way to global superstardom, Marin lost her grip on domestic politics. A sign of trouble ahead came with her strident denunciation of the populist nationalist Finns Party. If you’ve been following the Finnish elections via big-box media accounts, they’re the ones always labeled as “far right.” It’s a lazy attempt to smear anti-establishment opposition, and it appears Marin succumbed to that trap herself.
“The Finns Party is ‘an openly racist party’ based on the statements of some of its lawmakers, according to Prime Minister Sanna Marin,” The Helsinki Times reported Jan. 16. “The premier referred to, for example, the populist right-wing opposition party’s desire to exclude some nationalities from social security benefits, adding that she hopes that the party does not regard some population groups as more valuable than others.”
The Finns Party believes social welfare programs are being abused to provide an incentive for massive immigration into Finland. It does not apologize for its position.
“We have nothing to hide, be ashamed of or shady about our values. We’re a nationalist and patriotic party; we represent Finland and Finnishness,” party chairperson Riikka Purra proclaimed. “I’m very proud of the Finns Party’s concept of humanity and values. Those who distort it may have regrets of their own.”
Marin ruled out any partnership with the Finns Party, declaring it to be wholly incompatible with the agenda of her Social Democratic Party.
“I see no value in us pretending that it’s certainly possible that we could get a government that includes the Social Democrats and Finns Party. There won’t be one,” she declared at a debate. “I think it’s honest to tell voters that we’re far apart from each other.”
Perhaps this spelled her doom on April 2, as the Finns Party finished a close second to the pro-business National Coalition Party and Marin’s SDP came in third. The results show how tight the race was. The NCP took 20.6% of the vote, the Finns Party 20.1%, and the SDP 19.9%.
“Three members of Marin’s outgoing left-leaning coalition, the once-powerful agrarian Centre party, Greens and Left Alliance, all suffered heavy losses, losing eight, seven and five seats respectively. They are unlikely to want to enter a new coalition,” UK newspaper The Guardian reported.
The National Coalition Party will now get first crack at forming a new government and will likely come to some sort of arrangement with the Finns Party. The two reportedly agree on much in the economic realm, and the NCP has at times expressed a willingness to take a tough line on immigration. On the other hand, the NCP believes in a need for more immigrants to boost the labor market, a position the Finns Party strongly opposes.
Marin, meanwhile, is out. Video from her hard-partying private life may have added to her polarizing nature within Finland, but one can’t help wonder if being a “global progressive icon” isn’t all it’s cracked up to be these days. After all, just look at what it has done for Macron and Trudeau.
“[T]here’s this sort of international rock star image, and then there’s the down-to-earth political context,” Teivo Teivainen, a political scientist at the University of Helsinki, told pro-internationalist publication Foreign Policy. “In your own country, it might seem obvious, but you are not a rock star – you are the representative of a political tendency, a political party. There are people who like your party and people who don’t like your party.”
All opinions expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of Liberty Nation.
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