Finland’s prime minister ‘willing to take drug test’ after backlash over leaked footage of her partying

·3 min read
Sanna Marin has expressed her disappointment that the private footage was made public (Andrew Medichini/AP)

The prime minister of Finland has said she is willing to take a drug test after claims people could be heard referencing illegal substances at a party she was filmed attending.

There was no evidence of illicit drug-taking within the footage leaked on Wednesday, which showed Sanna Marin partying with friends and Finnish public figures.

But some media outlets claimed the phrase jauhojengi – meaning “powder gang”, interpreted as alluding to cocaine – could be heard in one of the leaked clips, Finland’s public broadcaster Yleisradio Oy (YLE) reported.

However, social media users widely contested that the word was much more likely to be jallujengi, meant as a reference to the Finnish alcoholic drink, Jaloviina.

Despite this heavy scepticism, the 36-year-old faced calls for her to submit to a drug test, including from the chair of the opposition Finns Party, Riikka Purra, and an MP from the Centre Party, Ms Marin’s coalition partner.

“Just for the sake of the discussion in public, it would be wise if the prime minister Marin Sanna voluntarily went through a drug screening,” tweeted Centre Party MP Mikko Karna, using the hashtag “jauojengi”.

He added: “The people are also allowed to expect this from their prime minister.”

Speaking to reporters on Thursday, Ms Marin said she would be willing to do so if necessary and said: “I have nothing to hide. I have never taken drugs.

“Personally, I did not take drugs, nor did I consume anything other than alcohol. I danced, sang, and partied – perfectly legal things. And I’ve never been in a situation where I’ve seen or known of others [using drugs].”

Ms Marin said that the videos were filmed at a private apartment several weeks ago and the guests’ evening had continued at two bars in Helsinki, where she had not been drinking heavily.

“I am upset that these videos have become public. It was about me having a night out with friends. Partying – even in a boisterous way – dancing and singing,” the prime minister was quoted as saying by YLE.

Ms Marin became Finland’s youngest ever prime minister when she was elected in December 2019, and has made a point of spending her free time with friends just like others her age.

“I want to show that there are ordinary people with ordinary lives in these jobs. I have a family life, I have a work life and I have free time to spend with my friends,” she said, according to YLE.

In December, Ms Marin apologised to the nation after going out clubbing without her work phone, meaning she failed to be informed of a close contact with coronavirus. She did not test positive, however.

Reacting to the leaked footage on Thursday, the chair of her Social Democratic Party, Antti Lindtman said that there was “no doubt” Ms Marin had the trust of her party, the newspaper Helsingin Sanomat newspaper reported.

But critics have pointed to the fact that Finland’s government faces numerous challenges, including high electricity prices and intense geopolitical turbulence which saw it drop its long-neutral stance in seeking to join Nato, following neighbouring Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

Many citizens, however, appeared to interpret the outrage over the leaked clips as being overblown.

“They are singing a song and someone says something and to me it sounds more like ‘jallujengi’. Don't trust Finnish tabloid media. This is such a scandal made out of nothing,” said one Twitter user.

Sami Koivisto, a journalist with YLE, tweeted: “How do you know that the election is approaching? Well, at least from the fact that the political position starts to affect the functioning of the sense of hearing.”