Finnish conservative leader Petteri Orpo has won a close three-way election race, defeating the centre left coalition led by Prime Minister Sanna Marin
Marin had became a rockstar politician, with a rise and fall in her popularity similar to that of New Zealand’s Jacinda Ardern.
Sanna Marin remains popular and has an impressive political record moving Finland towards entry into Nato. Like Ardern, she has been praised for her leadership during the Covid-19 pandemic.
So why the departure from power?
Her profile was, to say the least, controversial. A young, in-your-face politician, elected aged 34 in 2019 was the youngest female political leader of a country. Her supporters saw in her a liberated woman unfettered by conventions of her status demonstrated through highly visible party-going, and attention by the global press.
Her style contributed to her celebrity status. Such non-political publicity created devoted followers as well loathing among her detractors.
Now Finland has opted for the conventional ‘safe pair of hands’, as the Political website puts it.
Finns have played it safe with a post-pandemic recession looming and their giant eastern neighbor Russia waging a brutal war in Ukraine.
In center-right leader Petteri Orpo, the Finnish electorate has backed someone with a trusted track record in party politics that stretches back decades.
Orpo convinced voters that the Finnish economy was in trouble and that he — rather than his free-spirited and freer-spending rival Sanna Marin — was the steady hand Finland needs.
Interestingly, the international news of the week is Finland’s president accepting his country’s entry into NATO. However, this significant policy is widely accepted by people and politicians alike, and seems unlikely to present an internal political problem for the new Prime Minister.