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Anni Sinnemäki

Anni Milja Maaria Sinnemäki
Born July 20, 1973, Helsinki

Bachelor of Arts 2001 (Russian literature and philosophy), University of Helsinki

Deputy Mayor (City planning and real estate) January 14, 2015–, City of Helsinki
Minister of Labour and Chairman of the Greens 2009–11
Member of parliament 1999–2015

Lyrics for the band Ultra Bra and the poetry collections Sokeana hetkenä (‘A moment of blindness’) and Aleksis Kiven katu (‘Alexis Kivi Street’)

Photo: Helsingin kaupunki
Written by Suvi Uotinen
Translated by Matthew Billington

Years in Parliament taught the art of listening and how to deal with failure

In 1999, at the age of 25, Anni Sinnemäki was elected to parliament. Thereafter, she spent a total of almost 16 years as Member of Parliament for the Greens.

“It was a long time. When I was leaving I worked out that it had been two-thirds of my adult life.”

At the time of her election, Ms Sinnemäki was still studying at the University of Helsinki. She had also intensively written lyrics for the Finnish band Ultra Bra for many years.

“I soon noticed that I was suited to the work of an MP. What is most important is to have a vision of the world and your objectives and goals. You have to be passionate about the issues you’re working for.”

Minister of Labour Anni Sinnemäki speaking to a plenary session of the Parliament of Finland on November 26, 2009. Picture: Vesa Moilanen

During her years in parliament, Ms Sinnemäki gained insight into the world of politics through her various roles as backbench MP, chairman of her parliamentary group, party chairman and Minister of Labour. Sometimes the party was in government, sometimes in opposition.

“I noticed that it was possible to exercise power in different ways in may roles, also in opposition.”

Her years in politics also taught her the importance of dealing with defeat.

“It is important that a counter proposal has been made and that you have fought for it, even when it isn’t adopted as the position of the majority”

Listening to others is also important.

“You should be interested in what others think. It can also provide the key to getting your own perspective accepted.”

The Finnish trade union leader and politician Lauri Ihalainen convened a meeting of former ministers of labour in January 2015. “I listened with intense interest to Mr Kanerva’s and Ms Jaakonsaari’s analysis of the times. I said that I was proud that in my own term of office youth unemployment had begun to fall and the right to study had been extended to those receiving unemployment benefit.”


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