The Guardian view on Finlands new PM: a different type of leadership – The Guardian

The worlds happiest country, according to an international survey two years in a row, is now one of very few to have a female leader. Finlands Sanna Marin, who is 34, will become the youngest serving prime minister when she is sworn in later this week. In setting this record, the Social Democrat follows in the footsteps of another young, progressive PM New Zealands Jacinda Ardern, who was 37 when her Labour party won the 2017 election, and the first woman to give birth in office since Pakistans Benazir Bhutto (the male, 35-year-old prime minister of Ukraine, Oleksiy Honcharuk, was the worlds youngest PM for three months in between).

Finland, which was the first country in Europe to grant women the vote in 1906, is often regarded by those on the left as something akin to utopia or at least a shining example of what a big-spending, socially liberal government can achieve. Its well-funded universal education system is among the most successful in the world. Between 2017 and 2019 it ran one of the first trials of universal basic income. This summer a new left-leaning government pledged to make Finland carbon neutral by 2035 a target accurately described by Finnish Greens as probably the most ambitious in the world.

The four other parties in the new coalition are all headed by women, three of them in their 30s. New Zealand has more than 40% women in its House of Representatives (compared with 32% in the UKs last parliament). But should we make connections between the personal characteristics of a countrys leaders and its political culture as a whole? Is it a coincidence that these two nations, often viewed as progressive beacons, both have women in charge (while Ms Marin will become Finlands third female prime minister, Ms Ardern is New Zealands third)?

A female leader is certainly no guarantee that a country, or a party, has a progressive outlook. The UKs two female prime ministers have been Conservatives. Angela Merkel is a Christian Democrat. The French far right is led by Marine Le Pen. Neither are female voters or politicians necessarily any more liberal, social democratic or environmentalist than men. While Ukip and the Brexit party have never been as popular with UK women as they are with men, national populist parties in continental Europe do not have the same problem, and 53% of white women in the US voted for President Trump.

But at a time when the political life of so many nations (Brazil, India, Hungary) is being reshaped by leaders in a strongman mould, Finland and New Zealand are reminders that there are alternatives. Academic evidence on the impact of more diverse representation shows that previously marginalised groups do gain as a result of an increased focus on policies to advance their interests. Far from feeling hamstrung by her reliance on coalition partners, Ms Ardern told the Guardian that building consensus is an aspect of her job that she enjoys. To suggest that all female politicians are more adept at this style of working would be to stereotype. But just as Greta Thunbergs leadership has given new energy to the climate movement, it is heartening to see a new generation of women in government to address some of the many challenges that we all face.

Read more here:

The Guardian view on Finlands new PM: a different type of leadership - The Guardian

Related Posts

Comments are closed.