'Politics can change': World's youngest prime minister to take office aged 34

The world has a new leader – and the moment she takes office she’ll be setting new records.

Finland's transportation minister Sanna Marin has been selected by her Social Democratic party to become the country's youngest prime minister ever and the youngest serving democratically-elected leader in the world.

The 34-year-old Ms Marin, whose party is the largest in a five-member governing coalition, has been elevated to the position after the resignation of her male colleague, Antti Rinne.

Finland's new leader beats out Ukrain's Oleksiy Honcharuk at age 35 for the title of youngest PM. Source: Instagram/sannamarin

Mr Rinne resigned on Tuesday after a party in the coalition, the Centre Party, said it had lost confidence in him following his handling of a postal strike in the country.

Ms Marin is now due to take the prime ministership in the coming days.

“We have a lot of work ahead to rebuild trust,” the 34-year-old told reporters after winning a narrow vote among the party leadership on Sunday (local time).

“I have never thought about my age or gender. I think of the reasons I got into politics and those things for which we have won the trust of the electorate.”

Coincidentally, the young mother will have another huge job to take up as Finland currently holds the European Union’s rotating presidency until the end of the year.

Politicians are likely to approve her appointment and her new government quickly so she can represent Finland at the leaders’ summit in Brussels at the end of the week.

The next Prime Minister of Finland, Sanna Marin, right, speaks with the former PM, Antti Rinnein. Source: AAP

Ms Marin has enjoyed a swift rise in Finnish politics since becoming head of the city council of her industrial hometown of Tampere at the age of 27.

She will take over in the middle of a three-day wave of strikes, which will halt production at some of Finland's largest companies from Monday.

The Confederation of Finnish Industries estimates the strikes will cost the companies a combined 500 million euros (AU$808 million) in lost revenue.

The centre-left coalition, which took office just six months ago, has agreed to continue with its political program stressing a shift to carbon neutrality.

“We have a joint government program which glues the coalition together,” Ms Marin said on Sunday.

Interestingly, the four other parties that make up the coalition are also led by women.

Three of those four are also under the age of 35.

‘Politics can change’

Many who reacted to the news of Ms Marin’s ascension to the top job understandably focused on her young age and gender.

“Finland has a new prime minister, Sanna Marin, 34 year old woman. Now, all our 5 government parties have female leaders. Just thought that deserves to be said. Politics can change,” one professor wrote online.

“Do I have to remind everyone that Finland is one of the richest countries in the world?” American writer Elizabeth Jean Carroll joked in reacting to the news.

Others meanwhile were quick to point out the relative lack of democratically elected leaders in high office in countries, including the US and Canada.

“A 34-year-old woman just won the PM election in Finland in a five-party system and the US is probably going to have a pair of 70-something men as their only options for the presidency this upcoming fall,” one Twitter user complained.

In 1906, the Finnish Parliament became the first in the world to allow all women to run for office. Today, it has 42 per cent of women across its 12 ministry cabinets.

Despite pushes for a greater representation of female leaders in Australian politics in recent years, women made up just 23 per cent of the governing Liberal Party at the 2019 election.

The Opposition Labor party, which has rules committing itself to pre-selection of women, had a much higher proportion at 47 per cent, according to the ABC.

- With Reuters

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