EDITORIAL: Sorry, not sorry Sanna Marin

Political protocols aside, this voyeuristic tendency to intrude upon the private lives of people in the public eye and milk such recordings for maximum political gain, reflects very poorly on those indulging in such pastimes.
Sanna Marin
Sanna Marin

CHENNAI: In yet another episode in the narrative of bottom feeding on social media, the Prime Minister of Finland, Sanna Marin seems to have been swept up in a controversy involving a leaked video that shows her partying. The 36-year-old Marin who is the world’s third youngest state leader is seen dancing spiritedly with her friends in what was dubbed as a private party at an undisclosed location. The video which spread like wildfire on social media has invited pointed remarks from everyone including Marin’s critics as well as a few ‘well-meaning’ citizens who criticised Marin for behaviour unbecoming of a head of state.

As Marin tested negative for drugs, the young politician said that she had danced, sang and consumed alcohol, and that there was nothing illegal about any of her actions. Marin is no stranger to such criticisms as local media has previously accused her for attending too many music festivals and partying as opposed to carrying out her statecraft responsibilities. Last December, Marin issued a public apology after she went out clubbing during the pandemic, without carrying her work phone on her. Owing to this, she missed out on a contact tracing message that said she had been in close contact with a COVID positive individual.

Political protocols aside, this voyeuristic tendency to intrude upon the private lives of people in the public eye and milk such recordings for maximum political gain, reflects very poorly on those indulging in such pastimes. A few months ago, Congress leader Rahul Gandhi was also targeted by India’s ultra-nationalist troll brigades, who not only made insensitive remarks about the opposition leader’s affinity for having a good time at nightclubs outside India, but also made baseless allegations linking him with a Chinese diplomat. The standard jibe employed was how does one concentrate on the party when a real party awaits. It was subsequently found that the Congressman was in Nepal attending a friend’s wedding party, and there were no Sino-Indian connections being forged there.

Thanks to the perpetual memory of the internet, footage from several years ago pertaining to influential politicians are also dug up, in an attempt to discredit them in the run-up to elections or other important events. A case in point is how critics of America’s youngest congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, pulled up a video from her student years where she is seen dancing. Being the firebrand that she is, Ocasio-Cortez responded by posting a follow-up video which shows her dancing in her new office in Washington.

It might also be hard to miss the air of inherent sexism when such vitriol is directed at women in places of power. But here’s the question. What prompts us to hold political leaders to such high standards, running the risk of deifying them and denying them the impulses that make them human. The idea that an individual holding a powerful political office is more or less expected to renounce his true persona in favour of upholding a holier than thou image, is preposterous to say the least.

In the case of the Finnish PM, she said she spends her free time with friends like other people of her age, and that she intends to continue being the person that she was before. Her sentiments were echoed by many supportive youngsters on Twitter who went on to say, “She’s young, she’s intelligent, and more than anything, she’s one of us.” And that could possibly be the catalyst for anyone to truly identify with a politician – a phenomenon that is hard to come by in India, where it’s mighty hard for those wielding power to get off their high horse.

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