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Sanna Marin defends lifestyle after footage of her ‘wild’ night out has gone round the world 

Finnish prime minister Sanna Marin has earned many accolades since becoming, at the age of 34, the world’s youngest state leader.

There’s her phenomenally successful journey to power, for one thing. 

She has garnered particular plaudits of late for her steely resolve when faced with the ever-present spectre of Finland’s neighbour, Vladimir Putin.

Then, there’s the matter of her appearance — she has justifiably been called a politician for the Instagram generation.

Yesterday, however, in the week she was dubbed ‘the coolest politician in the world’ by German newspaper Bild, Marin was plunged into fresh controversy in a second storm involving the emergence of new video footage showing her dancing hip-to-hip with a male pop singer in a nightclub at 4am.

Sanna Marin was plunged into fresh controversy when new video footage showing her dancing hip-to-hip with a male pop singer in a nightclub at 4am surfaced

Finnish tabloid Seiska reported that a witness had described the Social Democratic PM as ‘clearly intoxicated’ and that she had ‘danced intimately with at least three different men’ and ‘sat on the laps of two different men’.

It should be said, that is not what the video depicts, which is rather the kind of dancing instantly recognisable from nightclubs the world over.

The controversy comes in the wake of an earlier leaked video taken the same evening which showed Marin dancing and drinking on August 6 with about 20 friends, including famous Finnish artists, TV hosts and social media influencers.

She has drawn criticism within Finland by those who consider the behaviour inappropriate for a world leader, especially in a time of national emergency when Finland is ending its historic neutrality to join Nato and grappling with a belligerent Russia.

The PM has drawn criticism within Finland by those who consider the behaviour inappropriate for a world leader, especially in a time of national emergency

The PM has drawn criticism within Finland by those who consider the behaviour inappropriate for a world leader, especially in a time of national emergency

Finland's glamorous Prime Minister Sanna Marin has been seen dancing wildly and partying hard with a group of celebrity friends after video was leaked online

Finland’s glamorous Prime Minister Sanna Marin has been seen dancing wildly and partying hard with a group of celebrity friends after video was leaked online

The leaked videos led to the quite extraordinary circumstances yesterday afternoon of a nation’s head of state — she is married, with a daughter — having to declare that ‘nothing inappropriate’ happens in the videos, she had ‘nothing to conceal or hide’ and that she had, for her own legal protection, taken a drug test, ‘the results of which will come in about a week’.

Speaking in English, Marin, now 36, told a press conference that she didn’t have any government meetings on the weekend of the events captured on camera.

‘I had some time off and I spent it with my friends. And I didn’t do anything illegal,’ she declared. 

Her only regret was that ‘private’ videos had made it into the public domain, she added.

Earlier, in response to questions both from opposition party members and members serving in her own coalition government, she said: ‘I have a family life, I have a work life and I have free time to spend with my friends. Pretty much the same as many people my age.’

Marin said: 'I am going to be exactly the same person as I have been until now and I hope that it will be accepted'

Marin said: ‘I am going to be exactly the same person as I have been until now and I hope that it will be accepted’

She added that she felt no need to change her behaviour. 

‘I am going to be exactly the same person as I have been until now and I hope that it will be accepted.’

That she should regret the leak is perhaps unsurprising when you consider both her position as prime minister and the small matter of the fact that the man she was dancing with was not her husband, Markus Raikkonen, a former football player.

Not that there is any suggestion of marital disharmony — far from it. 

He most recently appeared on Marin’s Instagram feed on August 1, when she shared a stunning photograph from their wedding day, in August 2020, during her first year in office. 

‘It’s been 18 summers since I met you. Happy wedding anniversary,’ she wrote.

The couple met, aged 18, during their final year of college and already had a two-year-old daughter, Emma Amalia Maria, when they married at the prime minister’s official residence in Helsinki.

At the time Marin was effusive in her love for her teenage sweetheart, writing: ‘We have seen and experienced a lot together, shared joys and sorrows, and supported each other at the bottom and in the storm.

‘We have lived together in our youth, grown up and grown older with our beloved daughter. Of all the people, you’re right for me. Thank you for being by my side.’

As spouse to Finland’s trailblazing, millennial prime minister, what a journey he has witnessed.

Marin and husband Markus Raikkonen who works in communications - they married at the prime ministers official residence

Marin and husband Markus Raikkonen who works in communications – they married at the prime ministers official residence

The prime minister was seen in a video dancing intimately with Finnish pop star Olavi Uusivirta (pictured)

The prime minister was seen in a video dancing intimately with Finnish pop star Olavi Uusivirta (pictured)

The woman who is now leader to 5.5 million people was born into a working-class family in Helsinki and grew up in a rented home in circumstances that were far from easy. Her mother split with Marin’s alcoholic father Lauri at a young age.

With finances tight, Marin was a hard worker, her first summer job was at a bakery and while in high school she delivered magazines to earn extra cash.

But what the family lacked financially, they more than made up for with love. 

Marin has spoken of how her mother began a relationship with another woman after the divorce, describing growing up in a ‘rainbow family’ with an ‘abundance’ of love.

Not that it was easy. ‘We were not recognised as a true family or equal with others,’ she once said, reflecting on how her early life had influenced her politics. 

‘For me, people have always been equal. It’s not a matter of opinion. That’s the foundation of everything.’

She was the first member of her family to attend university, working as a cashier while taking advantage of Finland’s generous education system to get her degree in administrative science.

Her background and honesty have been an asset. 

When, not so long ago, a far-Right party leader mocked her as a ‘sales girl’, she had the perfect riposte: ‘I’m extremely proud of Finland. Here a poor family’s child can educate themselves and achieve their goals in life. A cashier can become even a prime minister.’

It was while studying that she had her ‘political wake-up call’, struck, she once said, by a sudden awareness that hard work could not just benefit her own life but the lives of those around her — the poor and women, in particular.

Premier Sanna Marin, 36, was seen enjoying a night out at the Butchers nightclub with friends on Saturday - so much so that she did not leave until 4am

Premier Sanna Marin, 36, was seen enjoying a night out at the Butchers nightclub with friends on Saturday – so much so that she did not leave until 4am

Her affiliation with the centre-Left Social Democratic Party that she now leads began with membership in 2006, and saw her become its first vice-president from 2010 to 2012.

She stood for election in Tampere City Council elections in 2008, but failed to get elected. 

She stood, successfully, for a second time, aged 27, in 2012, working her way up the political ladder to become transport and communications minister by June 2019. 

By December that year, she became prime minister.

One oft-repeated tale is that of the girls’ sauna night out (it’s Finland after all) a few years ago when a journalist asked Marin whether she was going to be leader of her party.

‘She just looked at me as if to say, ‘Are you even asking me this?’ ‘ recalled Kristiina Tolkki.

Despite the plaudits she has received since taking office, the furore of this week is not the prime minister’s first brush with controversy.

In December she was criticised for visiting a nightclub after coming into contact with someone who had tested positive for Covid. 

She apologised, even though she had not broken any rules at the time.

In late 2020 she also sparked a sexism debate after posing for a magazine photoshoot in a blazer, apparently wearing nothing underneath.

She told the magazine she wanted to ‘concentrate on policies, not my appearance’ — but, inevitably, the photograph divided opinion, with some praising the PM and others calling the image ‘inappropriate’.

In every sense a modern woman, she shared parental leave with her partner and was regularly seen breastfeeding her daughter in parliament.

She is clear-sighted about the attention her age, sex and appearance draws, although Finland has long blazed a trail for women in politics. 

She once told Vogue: ‘In every position I’ve ever been in, my gender has always been the starting point — that I am a young woman.

‘I hope one day it won’t be an issue . . . I’m no better and no worse than a middle-aged man.’

Make no mistake, she has been bold politically, too. In May, she declared that historically neutral Finland would join Sweden in applying for membership of Nato, thus tearing up a decades-long neutrality agreement with Russia that has held since the Winter War — Moscow’s ill-fated attempt to invade Finland shortly after the outbreak of World War II.

Inspired by her own upbringing, her centrepiece legislation has been an equality programme aimed at benefiting women and those from low-income backgrounds. 

The programme has so far included policies to encourage parents to share caring responsibilities equally, crack down on domestic violence, close the gender pay gap and improve education for immigrants and children from poorer backgrounds.

Ms Marin is seen in white jeans (centre) dancing with friends at Klubi, an upmarket nightclub attached to a restaurant complex in central Helsinki

Ms Marin is seen in white jeans (centre) dancing with friends at Klubi, an upmarket nightclub attached to a restaurant complex in central Helsinki

A fan of the American rock band Rage Against The Machine, she is an advocate of a four-day working week, so that people can spend more time with ‘families, loved ones, hobbies and other aspects of life’.

She has made education compulsory until the age of 18 and has also committed to ending homelessness.

No longer the youngest global leader — Dritan Abazovic, of Montenegro and Gabriel Boric, of Chile, have the edge there by a few months — she is pointedly unabashed about her youth, which may well explain her riotous behaviour in the videos that have emerged this week.

As she said at the start of her time as PM: ‘I’m a representative of the younger generation — and, yes, that’s reflected in the way I do my work and how I live.

‘I won’t change the way I behave. I’m an individual, a person, a real person — even though I’m prime minister.’

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