Sanna Marin, the millennial prime minister of Finland, said her country and other Nordic nations were best equipped to provide their citizens a chance to achieve the American dream.
She told The Washington Post’s Ishaan Tharoor at Davos, Switzerland, in January: “I feel that the American dream can be achieved best in the Nordic countries, where every child no matter their background or the background of their families can become anything.”
The American dream is, at its most basic level, the idea that everyone should be given the opportunity to reach their life’s goals and ambitions.
Finland can provide the American dream because of its public services, Marin said.
“We have a very good education system,” she said. “We have a good healthcare and social-welfare system that allows anybody to become anything. This is probably one of the reasons why Finland gets ranked the happiest country in the world.”
She warned, however, about forcing such a system on other countries.
“Every country’s situation is different,” she told The Post. “Every country’s political atmosphere is different.”
Marin, 34, became the world’s youngest prime minister in December when she was chosen to lead her party, the Social Democrats, which has the most seats in the Finnish coalition government.
Marin, who has a working-class background, was the first person in her family to attend university and worked as a sales assistant during her studies.
Sen. Bernie Sanders has long advocated Nordic-style socialism in the US.
Getty Images; Reuters
While she did not mention him by name, Marin’s remarks to The Post suggested a tacit endorsement of Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont, one of the frontrunners to secure the Democratic nomination in the 2020 US presidential election.
Sanders has long advocated moving toward so-called Nordic socialism: a system with a strong welfare state, often including free healthcare and highly subsidized higher education, paid for by high levels of taxation, particularly on the wealthy.
Sanders once said at a 2008 meeting in Vermont with the Finnish ambassador to the US that Finland has “one of the best economic and social models in the world.”
“We should ask how does it happen that in Finland they have virtually abolished childhood poverty, have free high-quality childcare, free college and graduate-school education,” he said, according to a readout of the meeting published on his website.
He added: “These are models, it seems to me, that we can learn from.”