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PM Marin denies criticising coalition partners in emails

Marin wrote in emails to a former official that she was frustrated about the lack of movement on coronavirus restrictions.

Pääministeri Sanna Marin puhuu tiedotusvälineille saavuttuaan hallituksen iltakouluun Säätytalolle.
Sanna Marin said on 29 November that things might get worse before they get better. Image: Vesa Moilanen / Lehtikuva

Prime Minister Sanna Marin (SDP) has denied criticising her coalition partners after media obtained emails in which she appeared to do just that.

"I'm deeply frustrated that the seriousness of the situation is not widely understood," said Marin in one of the emails to former government official Martti Hetemäki.

"Even within the government, it's difficult to get the required measures through because of various parties' hesitation."

At the regular Prime Minister's question hour show on Yle's Radio 1, however, she said that she was not criticising her partners.

"I don't see it as criticism, but rather an observation of the situation," said Marin.

Taking responsibility

The premier did not clarify which parties or measures she was referring to in the emails. She said she understood that parties have different perspectives and emphasis in negotiations.

Centre Party leader Annikka Saarikko said on Saturday that she would like Marin to say who she was referring to. Green Party chair Maria Ohisalo said that time was now being wasted on a blame game.

"Everyone now needs to take responsibility," said Ohisalo on Saturday. "I am a little bit concerned that column inches are being wasted on a debate about accusations. We should tell people what this is about and what we should do."

There has been a debate in recent weeks about whether regional authorities have done enough to fight coronavirus, with Helsinki and its surrounding region the subject of criticism from government figures.

"The situation is getting worse quickly"

During her Sunday interview, Marin said that the situation can change quickly.

"If we compare the autumn's situation with the situation in the spring, the broadly implemented restrictions in the spring came before there was a single death," said Marin. "Even in the hospitals there were only a few people."

"At this moment the situation is that there are more than 150 people in hospitals and 20 people in intensive care, so it is probable that the situation will quickly worsen from here," said the PM:

Marin said that the restrictions may now last longer than hoped, because Finland is lagging behind on suppressing the virus.

"It could well be that the situation has grown so bad that these measures cannot be very short in duration. They are in place for three weeks at first, but it could be that we are forced to continue them after that."

Marin said that it was good, however, that the seriousness of the situation was now understood in Finland.

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