Finland’s Outgoing Prime Minister Sanna Marin Resigns as Leader of Social Democratic Party After Third Place Election Finish
Finland's outgoing Prime Minister, Sanna Marin, has announced her resignation as the leader of her Social Democratic Party after the recent parliamentary elections that saw her party come in third place. Marin had fought the election on a platform of education, healthcare, and support for migrants to participate more quickly in Finnish society. While her party managed to win three seats compared to the 2019 elections, the results left the incumbent in the third spot, behind the center-right National Coalition Party and the far-right populist Finns Party. Despite the loss, Marin has declined to consider candidacy in next year's presidential election but plans to return to parliament.
The winner of the election is Petteri Orpo from the National Coalition Party with 20.8% of the vote, followed by Finns Party leader Riikka Purra in second place with 20.1% of the vote. Orpo claimed victory and was projected to gain about 20.8% with nearly all the votes counted. The Social Democratic Party led by Ms. Marin secured the third position with 19.9% of the total votes, closely following the Finns Party, a right-wing populist group, who recorded their highest-ever result of 20%.
The recent election was dominated by the economic and security aftershocks of Russia's invasion of Ukraine, which has caused concerns at home over Finland's economic situation. The country was also set to enter NATO, officially ending the policy of military non-alignment. President Sauli Niinistö of Finland accompanied by important ministers journeyed to Brussels to participate in a flag-hoisting event and to submit the documents of ratification. With the change of government, there are concerns about turbulence in Finland's NATO path right after joining the alliance.
However, security and defense policy have traditionally been areas of consensus in Finland, and the decision to apply for NATO membership was backed by a strong majority of Finnish public opinion. Most members of parliament understand well that Ukraine is fighting for all of Europe, and it is Kyiv's resistance against Moscow that gave Helsinki the time and space needed for a course correction in its defense policy, now culminating in the accession to NATO. Polling suggests about 80% of Finns support joining NATO, but in the recent elections, the Finn Party, a populist, right-wing party that stresses sovereignty, E.U. skepticism, and the most resistance to joining NATO, experienced its best-ever result and will likely be the center right's most powerful coalition partner.
Marin was a figurehead for progressives around the world and her popularity exceeded national borders, attracting worldwide attention. Her loss follows the recent resignations of New Zealand PM Jacinda Ardern and Scottish National Party First Minister Nicola Sturgeon. Despite her resignation, Marin has left a lasting impact on Finnish politics, and her fight for education, healthcare, and support for migrants will continue to shape the nation's policies for years to come.
0. “Sanna Marin to step down as leader of Finland’s Social Democrats” POLITICO Europe, 5 Apr. 2023, https://www.politico.eu/article/sanna-marin-step-down-finland-social-democrat-party-leader
1. “Finland's Sanna Marin, a global progressive icon, loses out on second term after right-wing surge” CNBC, 3 Apr. 2023, https://www.cnbc.com/2023/04/03/finland-election-progressive-prime-minister-marin-loses-out-on-second-term.html
2. “Finland's Sanna Marin Defeated in Election Ahead of NATO Ascension” The Wall Street Journal, 2 Apr. 2023, https://www.wsj.com/articles/finlands-sanna-marin-faces-tight-election-as-country-prepares-to-join-nato-570098a3
3. “Will Finland's political turn mean a course change on NATO too?” Atlantic Council, 4 Apr. 2023, https://www.atlanticcouncil.org/blogs/new-atlanticist/will-finlands-political-turn-mean-a-course-change-on-nato-too/
4. “It Is Finn-ished” The American Conservative, 5 Apr. 2023, https://www.theamericanconservative.com/it-is-finn-ished/
5. “Finland’s Sanna Marin Voted Out: Are Female Leaders Becoming An Endangered Species?” Forbes, 5 Apr. 2023, https://www.forbes.com/sites/tinafordham/2023/04/05/finlands-sanna-marin-voted-out-are-female-leaders-becoming-an-endangered-species/