Opinion: Much ado about nothing — Sanna Marin and a very Finnish scandal | DW | 19.08.2022
Opinion: None – Sana Marin and a very Finnish scandal | DW | 19.08.2022, Welcome to #Opinion #ado #Sanna #Marin #Finnish #scandal #19.08.2022 EODBA BlogHere is the latest breaking news and trending broadcast for you today: :
Once again Finland’s Prime Minister Sana Marin made international headlines. But this time it’s a video of her dancing with friends at a private party.
What followed was a very classic “Finnish scandal”, which is actually not a scandal at all, but since Finnish politics is so tight-knit and a bit boring, you have to get creative every now and then to stir things up.
At the same time it is indicative of the very high ethical standards that politicians are held to and expected to uphold. As a result, the threshold for Finnish politicians to resign over incidents similar to trivial ones elsewhere is much lower.
For example, in 2008 then-Foreign Minister Ilka Kanerva was fired over a text message scandal: he was sending text messages to a controversial female celebrity. Sana Marin herself became Prime Minister after her predecessor Antti Rinne resigned due to a scandal related to a post office strike.
Minna Allander is a Finnish analyst specializing in foreign and security policy
Marin and his women-led government have been the center of unusual international attention since taking office in December 2019. A 2021 study by the NATO Strategic Communication Center of Excellence found that female ministers in Marin’s government had a high rate of abusive messages, and that Marin herself was frequently subjected to domestic “scandals”, such as posting selfies on Instagram or other party incidents that got her in the press. Earned the nickname “Party-Sanna”.
Some of the more memorable Sanna “scandals” are the “breakfastgate” over her breakfast expenses or the controversy over her revelation that she likes cleaning, even the official residence.
Criticism is sexist
Misunderstandings have been fueled by mostly pointless domestic disputes, as Marin has led Finland through a number of exceptionally difficult situations, from the pandemic and now the NATO membership process. It is worth noting that a competent Prime Minister can be a 36-year-old woman, a mother of a young child, who can manage a social life despite having the toughest job in the country. For festivals, and the occasional party.
Usually, domestic “scandals” do not make international headlines. What was different this time, was that she might be doing drugs.
It was based on a phrase in a leaked party video that was misheard as “jauhojengi” (“flour gang”) and meant to mean drugs. In fact, Marin and her friends are seen singing along to the lyrics of a Finnish pop song that mentions the Finnish alcoholic drink “jallu”. In Finland, no one would call medicine “flour” anyway, which makes the whole business even worse.
Misinformation spreads fast
Nevertheless, the international media picked him up in an unprecedented fashion. In a series of pieces with unchecked facts, foreign media even alleged that the word “cocaine” was being shouted in the background.
After a fringe coalition member suggested she take a drug test, Marin told reporters on Friday she did so to clear up any misconceptions about her behavior – even though the burden of proof should not be on the accused.
While Marin has also received strong messages of international support, the case shows how easily misinformation can spread like wildfire. Too little to damage but too much work to set the record straight.
Improving the image of an institution, such as what and who can be a prime minister, is always the burden of a pioneer, which Marin is in many ways. This will hardly be the last Finnish scandal involving a prime minister, and perhaps that’s a good thing.
Minna Allender is a foreign and security policy analyst in Finland. She has worked at the German Institute for International Affairs (SWP) in Berlin and will return to her native Finland as a researcher at the Finnish Institute for International Affairs.
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