There has been a bit of political excitement in Finland. Sanna Marin, the country’s prime minister, 36, got caught in hot water after videos emerged of her and some friends dancing at a party. Oh sorry, I dance “exuberantly”. The coverage has been very specific on this, although I’d like to hear what it is that separates normal dancing from exuberant dancing.
Arin, leader of the centre-left Social Democrats, has faced fierce criticism from those who felt it was inappropriate for a person in her position to behave in this way. Allegations of drug use were quickly debunked by Marin, who said she had never used them in her life but voluntarily underwent a drug test to “clear any suspicion”.
Marin, Finland’s youngest-ever prime minister, also addressed suggestions that at the time of the party she would not have been able to make government decisions if she had been asked to.
Criticism of her choice of friends and an alleged lack of judgment continued this week. This was prompted by the emergence of a photo of two guests at the Prime Minister’s official residence flashing a camera with a “Finland” sign on their chests.
Marin apologized for the photo this week, saying, “I don’t think the picture is appropriate… it shouldn’t have been taken.”
Whatever the photo, the original criticism seems overdone, and hundreds of women across Finland felt the same way, posting videos of themselves dancing and sometimes even (shock!) drinking, using the hashtag “Solidarity With.” Sanna”. If I were Finnish, I would definitely have been one of them.
As Sanna Marin said: “I hope that in 2022 it will be accepted that even decision-makers dance, sing, hug their friends and drink alcohol.”
To be honest, I found it refreshing to see a politician in a situation that looked remarkably similar to how I was spending my Saturday night. Someone I can identify with in leadership? groundbreaking.
In Ireland this week we saw the complete opposite when a Fianna Fáil TD ran into hot water over omissions in the rental property declaration. Robert Troy admits he made a “grave mistake” but says there was no attempt to hide anything. It is about “an error of interpretation” in the obligation to disclose all real estate holdings.
I’ll be honest, I had a hard time getting upset over the intricacies of his wrongdoing. What convinced me was that this person, who makes a substantial salary as a TD, also owns 11 properties. If, as Leo Varadkar famously said, one person’s rent is another person’s income, I can’t help but wonder what it would be like to have so many sources of income. As someone who is still renting a house for their family at 39, I’ll probably never know.
Of course, I am not the only person who balks at the idea that a politician who owns so much property will be able to relate to the realities faced by most Irish citizens.
It’s not the first time we’ve been confronted with this either. It is regularly reported that a significant number of elected MPs are also landlords and landowners (77 at last count). Must be nice for her.
One public representative who isn’t among the landlords is Senator Lynn Ruane, who recently toured the country with actress and icon Miriam Margolyes. They are making a television show exploring the life of playwright and founder of Abbey Theatre, Lady Gregory. Honestly, I think anyone who thought of putting the pairing together deserves an award.
Along the way, Ruane posted videos on social media teaching Margolyes the dialect of her hometown, Tallaght. “Story Bud?”, “Up the Flats!” and “Shurrup yew, ye tick” were featured to the delight of most social media users.
Others accused her of “enforcing negative stereotypes” (which I think revealed her own snobbery). Some people expressed outrage, with one asking, “Is that an elected official?!”
Yes, I thought, and we’re lucky to have her. We are fortunate to have an elected officer like Lynn Ruane and Finland is fortunate to have Sanna Marin. They are people that normal people can identify with.
Elected representatives are supposed to do just that, represent us. Certainly a healthy government would be made up of people from a wide variety of backgrounds – people who genuinely understand the positions of their constituents and want to make sure the country we live in works for us.
Unfortunately, that is not the position we are in. If it were, there would be far more footage of politicians dancing with drinks in hand and far fewer discussions of vested interests in landlords in the Dáil.
That’s not to say our reps don’t enjoy a drink. Sure, there’s a bar at Leinster House, and I hear it does good business. But it’s a kind of socializing, isn’t it? The guy who doesn’t seem to make headlines. What you might call a boys buzz.
A few pints and a little mess, sure, what’s the harm? It’s different when it’s a woman dancing with her buddies at a house party, or even when it’s Leo Varadkar at a Kylie Minogue concert. Then it’s a scandal or a joke.
Robert Troy has resigned as Minister of State but he remains as TD and has his property to comfort him. I’d say he’ll be fine.
And Senator Lynn Ruane? She’s on her way to Burning Man. I’m curious to see what the naysayers have to say about this.
https://www.independent.ie/opinion/comment/imagine-a-different-dail-one-filled-with-people-you-can-relate-to-and-fewer-landlords-41940558.html Imagine a different Dáil, one full of people to relate to… and fewer landlords