"Boomer, be cool": Sanna Marin's IG post sparks minor media storm

The Prime Minister's clap-back at criticism over her social media activities came after some sniping from within her own party.

Prime Minister Sanna Marin speaking during Yle Radio 1's traditional question hour on Sunday 24 October. Image: Jussi Nukari / Lehtikuva

Prime Minister Sanna Marin's (SDP) Instagram story (siirryt toiseen palveluun) over the weekend sparked a minor media storm in Finland.

The premier posted an Instagram story on Saturday in which she poses with fellow Social Democratic Party MP Ilmari Nurminen to the backdrop of Finnish pop singer Benjamin Peltonen's lyrics "Hey boom-boom-boomer, stay calm, be cool."

Domestic media have interpreted the post as Marin pushing back at criticism for recently hosting an after-hours party at her official residence, though noting that in a broader context the PM's reaction signals the end of a Covid honeymoon period during which she has faced little criticism from within her own party.

Finnish media outlets have been busy explaining that the English-language boomer term in a Finnish context refers to the post-war generation born between 1945 and 1950, with tabloid Iltalehti (siirryt toiseen palveluun)pointing out that the term is used to refer to people "stuck in the past."

The post came after an Yle story last week reported concern within the SDP's parliamentary group over Marin's handling of a U-turn on cuts to culture and NGO spending.

SDP sources told Yle that the PM had changed during the Covid crisis, and that she had shifted the government's policy away from the harder line on Covid taken by SDP Health Minister Krista Kiuru.

"I want to shake up the institution"

Speaking on Sunday at the monthly Prime Minister's question hour show on Yle's Radio 1, Marin denied any jabs at older generations, saying the post was a quip at tabloids scrutinising her life outside the office.

"More than anything, this was a reference to the discussion about my free time. It was a quip about people taking offence to everything so easily. Maybe us politicians can have a sense of humour too. My take on the matter is that anything I do becomes news," Marin said.

However while saying on Sunday that being at the centre of attention was tiresome, Marin also said she wanted her social media activities to shake up the institution of the prime minister.

"I would hope I could shake up this institution. As a 35-year-old mother I represent the younger generation. I try to live like people my age," she said.

While the PM portrays a carefree image on social media, Marin—whose popularity has been high throughout the Covid crisis—is increasingly drawing criticism, including from within her own administration.

The "breakfastgate" scandal over taxpayer-funded free food at her official residence was the first chink in Marin's armour this spring. More recently, the PM has been at odds with her own cabinet over culture sector budget cuts amid state-run gambling monopoly Veikkaus' falling revenues.

She has also drawn criticism for boosting the political career (siirryt toiseen palveluun) of her good friend, 30-year-old SDP MPNurminen, featured in the controversial Boomer post. Nurminen, a first-term Tampere city councillor, now chairs the city's council, a position previously occupied by Marin.