Finland’s Prime Minister Parties, but Then Videos Leak
HELSINKI — Sometimes a prime minister just wants to have a little fun.
Last December, Sanna Marin, Finland’s 36-year-old leader, was spotted clubbing in Helsinki with friends into the early morning hours without her official phone, on which she had received a message warning her that she had been exposed to the coronavirus.
She publicly apologized after facing criticism for failing to immediately quarantine.
On Thursday, Ms. Marin was facing more scrutiny in media and political circles after videos leaked to social media showing her dancing energetically, striking poses and singing with friends at private parties.
The chatting on the videos left her facing questions about the possible presence of illegal drugs, with one voice saying, “This gives you a great feeling.” But there was no direct evidence that drugs were being used.
Still, that was enough for the opposition leader, Riikka Purra, chair of the Finns Party, perhaps mindful of elections next April, to suggest that Ms. Marin should volunteer to take a drug test.
The dust-up raised the question of whether Ms. Marin, who leads the Social Democratic Party and became one of the world’s youngest prime ministers in December 2019, was being held to a different standard.
In response to the videos, Ms. Marin denied knowledge of any illegal drug use at any party she has attended, telling the Finnish state broadcaster YLE on Thursday that only alcohol was consumed. She said that the parties she has attended were in private residences some weeks ago, and she expressed her displeasure at the latest leak.
“These videos are private,” Ms. Marin said. “They were recorded in private premises. I am displeased that they have been published. What they are about is that I was spending an evening with friends, partying, admittedly boisterously, dancing and singing.”
The parties drew some popular cultural and media personalities, including the singer and songwriter Alma and her sister Anna, the radio personalities Tinni Wikström and Karoliina Tuominen, and Janita Autio, a photographer who took a photo of Ms. Marin at a rock music festival in a leather jacket, shorts and boots that subsequently went viral.
Ms. Marin said that her security officers were on duty when she was at the parties but that they were not inside the residences.
Emilia Palonen, a political scientist at the University of Helsinki, says that it is difficult these days for a prominent politician to have true privacy.
“She surely trusted in the videos not being spread,” Ms. Palonen said. “But one is never free in this day and age. These days videos can be made anywhere and she was clearly aware” that she was being filmed.
That said, in this polarized political climate, Ms. Palonen said, “Her partying can be associated with irresponsibility.”
Indeed, some on social media seized on the videos to suggest it was unbecoming behavior given the problems people are facing today.
Petri Kuittinen, who identified himself on Twitter as a father of four, linked to the leaked video and commented: “Finland is suffering from record high electricity prices, lack of health care & elderly care professionals and this is how our leader is spending her time!”
But Fabian Zuleeg, chief executive of the European Policy Center in Brussels, asked: “Can someone explain to me why it is seen to be in any way a problem that a politician goes to a party and dances (if it doesn’t take place during lockdown that is)?”
Ms. Marin became prime minister after her predecessor had to resign over his handling of a postal workers strike.
Steven Erlanger contributed reporting from Brussels.