Estionan Minister Calls Finland’s New Prime Minister A“Sales Girl”

Estonian President Kersti Kaljulaid has apologized to Finland after one her ministers referred to their new Prime Minister as a “sales girl.”

Marte Helme, the leader of Estonia’s populist far-right party EKRE expressed his feelings on Finland’s Prime Minister during a conversation on his party’s radio station. Helme questioned the 34 year old Finnish Prime Minister Sanna Marin’s history as well as her ability to lead.   

“Now we see how one sales girl has become a prime minister and how some other street activists and non-educated people have also joined the cabinet,” is what Helme stated.

Ms Marin responded to Mr Helme’s comments via a tweet in which she stated “I am extremely proud of Finland.”

“Here, a child from a poor family can get educated and achieve many things in their lives. A cashier can become Prime Minister, for instance. Finland would not survive without its workers.”  

According to CNN the Estonian President Kersti Kaljulaid apologized for Helme’s comments during a phone call with Finnish President Sauli Niinistö on Monday.

Mr Helme has apologized to Ms Marin as well and stated that his comments were misunderstood. What he had intended to do was “acknowledge that it is possible to work oneself up from a low social level also into top politics.” He added that “If someone has misunderstood it… then indeed I want to say that I am offering my apology to the prime minister of Finland.”

Due to Helme’s comments the Estonian President Kersti Kaljulaid and opposition parties suggested that he step down from his role. However, on Tuesday Helme managed to survive a vote of no-confidence in the Estonian Parliament that allowed him to maintain his role.

According to Reuters, Helme formerly worked as Estonia’s ambassador to Russia and is known for his outspoken comments.

He called Kaljulaid, the first female president of Estonia, an “emotionally heated woman” for walking out during the swearing-in of a Cabinet minister accused of domestic violence. In another instance, he and his son, also a government-appointed minister, publicly flashed the “OK” hand gesture– a symbol that has become an alleged dog-whistle for white nationalists.