Bad start: Two government apologies in 24 hours after media snafus

Both Sanna Marin and Katri Kulmuni had to say sorry after problems with media and social media.

File picture of Finnish PM Sanna Marin (SDP) at European Council meeting in Brussels, 13th December 2019 / Credit: European Union

The new Finnish government is only a few days old, and it’s already having to issue apologies for things that went wrong this week.

In Brussels Prime Minister Sanna Marin (SDP) was forced to say sorry, after one of her media handlers apparently stopped a Finnish journalist from asking questions about Isis-linked Finns at the al-Hol refugee camp in Syria.

“I apologise for the excessive actions of the EU Communications Director at the press meeting. The schedule was tight, I was just on my way to meet the President of the Council [Charles] Michel” Marin writes on Twitter.

The PM says she was focused on taking questions about the European Council meeting, and apologised to the journalists who wanted to ask about other topics.

It’s certainly not unusual for politicians to take certain questions at certain events – at an economic briefing for example, they might focus on economic questions and not about foreign policy.

While it might not be the most open type of relationship between politicians and journalists it’s nothing new, and considered par-for-the-course by journalists who regularly attend press conferences.

Katri Kulmuni instagram poll / Credit: Instagram

Katri Kulmuni’s ill-advised Instagram poll 

Meanwhile the leader of the Centre Party Katri Kulmuni had to apologise after posting an ill-advised poll on Instagram.

Writing on her personal account, Finance Minister Kulmuni asked her followers to vote whether just children, or mothers and children should be brought from al-Hol refugee camp to Finland.

“My attempt to use social media to discuss a complex topic failed. I apologise” Kulmuni posted on Twitter. She also deleted the Instagram poll.

Her post however attracted criticism from Human Rights Watch.

“Seriously Finland? This is awful, if true. A state should respect the rights of its citizens in all cases, not put life-and-death decisions about those citizens to a public referendum on social media” says Andrew Stroehlein, the organisation’s European Media Director.

“What’s next, public hangings based on the volume of stadium cheers?” he added.