Once again, Finland’s government receives worldwide attention for the thinnest of reasons. Prime Minister Sanna Marin is at the center of a “scandal” where, essentially, she is accused of having a good time at a party and concerning another “scandal” where two friends of hers were boisterous at the Prime Minister’s official residence. These two events follow on from a 2020 “scandal” in which Marin was accused of wearing a top with too revealing a neckline in a photoshoot.
Supporters of Marin are absolutely right to point out that the focus on the most superficial aspects of Marin’s premiership is rooted in sexism and appeals to the basest level of personality politics. Whether Sanna Marin goes to festivals with friends or what she wears has nothing to do with either the policies of her government or Marin’s implementation of them.
As the furor drags on, an observer may wonder whether both the parties of government and the parties of the parliamentary opposition find the focus on Marin’s personal life to be a welcome distraction. After all, it is now the season of the Finnish government’s final budget before the April parliamentary election. Early proposals suggest that what we warned of, is coming to pass. The defence budget will balloon by 20% on top of its 2021 inflation. Meanwhile, health care, social care, and the environment ministry all face cutbacks.
Cuts and militarism
Among the parliamentary parties, there is no opposition to this agenda of cuts and militarism. Attitudes range from acquiescence to rabid enthusiasm–the only debate coming in Parliament is how much misery is to be inflicted on Finnish workers, and how many billions of euros are to be wasted on war toys. Resistance must come from outside: from the trade union confederations slowly waking from the toxic dream of today’s Social Democratic Party as a home for the working class and from the many unemployed and underemployed across Finland who have seen no respite under Marin’s government from the vicious neoliberal policies of the National Coalition and the Center Party.
When we watch Sanna Marin dance on the front pages of the news websites, while reports of rising unemployment and a return of nursing strikes are buried, we can only think one thing. Sanna Marin is entitled to her social life. But she is a career politician who began ascending the Social Democrats’ bureaucracy when she was barely out of high school. She has little experience in working for a living. She has nothing to do with us.
Let her dance. Workers and socialists in Finland will organise, march, strike, and build our forces until, one day, armed with a socialist programme of fundamental change we can rise up and change the world.