Finland's Sanna Marin quits as MP

Finland’s party-loving PM Sanna Marin quits as an MP to join Tony Blair’s Institute for Global Change

  • Marin will join the former British PM’s policy think tank as a ‘strategic counsellor’ 

Finland’s former Prime Minister Sanna Marin, who narrowly lost an election in April, stepped down on Friday as chair of the centre-left Social Democrats and plans to resign from Parliament. 

Marin, who had announced her intention to quit soon after the election loss, was the world’s youngest prime minister when she took the post in 2019 aged 34, attracting attention around the globe and helping lift Finland’s profile.

She leaves behind her political career to join former British Prime Minister Sir Tony Blair’s Institute for Global Change, a London-based policy think tank, as a ‘Strategic Counsellor’. 

Marin, now 37, is likely hoping to take the focus off her personal life with her resignation as an MP after an often turbulent four years at the helm.

She has appeared on the covers of Vogue and Time Magazine, has a million followers on Instagram and is considered by fans around the world as a millennial role model for progressive leaders.

But at home, voters concerned with issues like immigration and a growing public deficit in April handed Marin a narrow defeat to the right wing National Coalition and the far-right Finns party, triggering the government’s fall.

She weathered several publicity storms while in office, including over her nightclubbing during the pandemic, hosting private parties at her official residence and voluntarily taking a drug test – which returned negative – after a party video was leaked to the media.

Former Prime Minister of Finland and member of the Finnish parliament (MP) Sanna Marin speaks to journalists at the Finnish parliament in Helsinki, Finland on September 7, 2023

Marin, now 37, is likely hoping to take the focus off her personal life with her resignation as an MP after an often turbulent four years at the helm

Sir Tony Blair speaks during the Tony Blair Institute for Global Change’s Future of Britain Conference in central London. Picture date: Tuesday July 18, 2023

Speaking on Marin’s announcement, Tony Blair said: ‘Our mission is to help political leaders worldwide deliver change for their people – and Sanna Marin knows exactly how to do that. Ms Marin is bold and practical, understands the role that technology can play as the enabler of a more efficient and citizen-centred state, and will lend her experience to our mission in more countries throughout the world.’

A statement by the Institute on Marin’s new post read: ‘The Tony Blair Institute (TBI) is very pleased to announce that Sanna Marin, former Finnish prime minister and leader of the Social Democratic Party, is joining as a Strategic Counsellor. 

‘She will be working with colleagues and teams across TBI’s portfolio of countries, advising political leaders on their reform programmes. Ms Marin has a record of accomplishment, from setting one of the world’s most ambitious climate targets – enabled by a full programme of digitalisation and deployment of technology – to shepherding her country’s accession to NATO following Russia’s aggression in Ukraine.’

The think tank was founded in 2017 by the former British PM, who at the time said he launched the organisation to ‘refill the wide open space in the middle of politics’, tackle the ‘frightening authoritarian populism’ that he said undermines Western democracy. 

The Institute’s funding is not publicly disclosed, but it receives funds from a variety of sources, including private donations, philanthropic foundations, and government contracts. 

It conducts research, publishes reports, and engages with policymakers and leaders from various sectors to advise on policy decisions.

Finland’s Social Democrats Party Chair, former Prime Minister of Finland Sanna Marin waves from the stage before her resignation speech at the Party Congress of the Socialdemocrats of Finland in Jyvaskyla, central Finland, Friday, Sept. 1, 2023

After her election loss, Marin said she looked forward to a quieter life and later also announced a divorce from her husband

After leading her country through COVID-19 lockdowns and the ensuing economic turmoil, Marin became a vocal supporter of Ukraine after Russia’s invasion last year and succesfully pushed to end Finland’s military non-alignment in favour of NATO membership.

She chaired her party’s conference for the last time on Friday and in a brief speech, she reiterated her criticism of Finland’s eastern neighbour.

‘Russia and its representatives must be held accountable for the illegal crime of aggression, war crimes and the consequences of war,’ Marin said.

‘In addition to Finland’s steadfast support for Ukraine and the Ukrainians, we must also send a strong message of hope for the reconstruction of the country, for a European future.’

Entering the stage on Friday to the beat of Aretha Franklin’s ‘Respect’, Marin thanked her party for its support.

She was due to formally hand over the reins later on Friday after the Social Democrats elect a new leader.

After her election loss, Marin said she looked forward to a quieter life and later also announced a divorce from her husband. 

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