At 34 Sanna Marin becomes the world’s youngest PM

Helsinki: A 34-year-old transport minister and MP has been tapped to become Finland’s youngest prime minister ever and its third female government leader.

Finland’s ruling Social Democratic Party council voted 32-29 late on Sunday, local time, to name Sanna Marin to take the government’s top post from rival incumbent Antti Rinne.

Having emerged as the largest party in the April election, the Social Democrats can appoint one of their own to the post of prime minister in the Nordic nation of 5.5 million.

Marin has been the party’s vice-chairwoman, an MP since 2015 and served as until this week as the minster for transport and communications. She will be the world’s youngest sitting leader, followed by Ukraine PM Oleksiy Honcharuk, 35, and North Korea’s Kim Jong-un, 36. New Zealand’s PM Lacinda Ardern was elected when she was 37-year-old.

Finland presently holds the European Union’s rotating presidency until the end of the year. Legislators are likely to approve the appointment of Marin and her new government quickly so she can represent Finland at the December 12-13 EU leaders’ summit in Brussels.

Rinne stepped down on Tuesday after a key coalition partner, the Centre Party, withdrew its support, citing lack of trust. The Centre Party also criticised Rinne’s leadership skills prior to a two-week strike by the country’s state-owned postal service Posti in November that spread to other industries, including the national flag carrier Finnair.

Rinne’s resignation prompted the formal resignation of a coalition of the Social Democrats and the Centre Party and three junior partners: the Greens, the Left Alliance and the Swedish People’s Party of Finland.

On Sunday, Social Democrats and the four other coalition parties said they were committed to the government program agreed upon after the April election and would continue in Marin’s new government. The new government will still have a comfortable majority of 117 seats at the 200-seat Eduskunta, or parliament.

“We have a joint government program which glues the coalition together,” Marin said.

Social Democrats said on Sunday they were seeking to have Rinne, a former trade union leader, become the parliament’s vice-speaker. He also planned to stay on as the Social Democrats’ chairman until a party congress next northern summer.

The timing of the change in leadership is awkward for Finland, which holds the rotating presidency of the European Union until the end of the year, playing a central role in efforts to hammer out a new budget for the bloc.