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Finland PM Gets Dismissed as a 'Sales Girl'

Estonia apologizes after interior minister's comment
By Kate Seamons,  Newser Staff
Posted Dec 17, 2019 9:28 AM CST

(Newser) – At 34, Sanna Marin is the world's youngest prime minister, and the Finnish leader started her term on the receiving end of a dig. Estonia's interior minister, Mart Helme, was appearing on a radio talk-show produced by his populist far-right party Ekre when he cast doubt upon her ability to run the county. Helme said, "Now we see how one sales girl has become a prime minister and how some other street activists and non-educated people have also joined the Cabinet." The BBC reports Marin did work as a sales assistant prior to college—she was the first in her family to finish high school and go—and has been very public about her disadvantaged background.

Marin seemed to take the comment in stride, tweeting, "Here a child from a poor family can get educated and achieve many things in their lives. The cashier of the shop can become a prime minister." Nevertheless, Estonia President Kersti Kaljulaid apologized for the 70-year-old's comments and expressed her embarrassment at them. As for Helme, he said he had simply been misunderstood and offered an apology of his own, saying he was just trying to express the possibility of moving "from a low social level also into top politics." Still, Reuters reports Helme is known for making "outspoken statements" that have caused embarrassment. (Read more Sanna Marin stories.)

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