Susan speaks out - but not in an exclusive interview
The country's best-known ex-girlfriend, 36-year-old Susan Kuronen, sits in the bar of an Espoo hotel giving her last interview on her relationship with the Prime Minister of Finland. She has spoken to the press here before - so many times that she has been urged in letters to editors to be quiet.
The stories have revealed, among other things, that the Prime Minister did not tell the truth last spring about how the relationship began.
"I don't know where that Ikea thing was invented. We met on the Internet, and the first time that we saw each other was at that intersection there, from where he gave me a ride", Kuronen says.
Her comments have also given rise to headlines, according to which "Matti was cruel and cold". Before that, the headlines had declared that Kuronen was dreaming about a wedding, about which Matti Vanhanen told Kuronen that he had gone into "shock". According to Kuronen, Vanhanen was afraid that his children would suffer from a woman publicly declaring that she is in love with their father.
Why has Kuronen started talking to the press? After all, that is what brought the relationship to an end. Wouldn't it have been better to agree on publicity matters together with the Prime Minister at the early stages of the relationship?
"We didn't talk about it, because it came as a surprise to Matti that the magazines were interested in me", Kuronen says.
She herself felt that it was self-evident that the relationship would be interesting, because "even the dull divorce of the dull prime ministerial couple", had been interesting. When journalists were camped out at the door of Kuronen's workplace for days, and called there, Kuronen realised that she had been right.
"Matti is one hundred per cent of the opinion that nothing must be spoken", Kuronen says.
"If a person has a public job and a mission in the public, the door to their own lives should also be opened a crack, unless there is something to hide. The door does not need to be flung wide open."
Kuronen believes that openness about the Prime Minister's dating could have been dealt with in a cleaner manner in public. For instance, Kuronen feels that Vanhanen's way of making the relationship public failed.
The Prime Minister decided to appear with his new friend at a summer party in Central Finland at the end of a weekend at a cabin with little advance warning. People started to take pictures of Kuronen with their digital cameras, and soon there were journalists as well. Vanhanen started to walk somewhere else, thinking that the cameras would follow him, as they did on official occasions.
"I couldn't shout 'come back'. I just stood there surrounded by people, holding a loaf of oatmeal bread under my arm, close to tears", Kuronen says.
Later, Kuronen feels that she was too nice to journalists.
"I said to Ilta-Sanomat and Anna several times that I will not come here to talk about Matti", she said about the interviews that got Vanhanen to break up with her.
According to Kuronen, the aim of the interviews was to rectify her public image. For instance, Katso had reported previously about "Susan-dear's hellish debts", which was based on an unpaid credit card bill of three euros. When asked, Kuronen nevertheless answered questions about love, and they ended up in the headlines. Would she do anything different now?
"Perhaps I would say something different. However, I would not take back saying that I loved Matti", she answers.
"What is there to hide in that?"
According to Kuronen, it is possible for a Prime Minister to date and live a completely normal life, "if he would give himself permission to do so".
Before getting to know Vanhanen, Kuronen had no dreams of a celebrity life. After the relationship began, she would nevertheless have been willing to open the curtain of publicity more than the Prime Minister wanted.
After the break-up, according to the lines of the publicity formula, she has been asked about possibly running for Parliament. She refused. She has been asked to appear on television entertainment shows. She agreed to appear on one programme, and turned down another.
"I have not offered myself to magazines, and I have not been paid for my interviews. I would like to write a book."
She believes that her own public image awakens both anger and sympathy in people.
"I have not read in many weeks what people write about me. I have long been in a news blackout. I want to spare myself." She has received hundreds of encouraging text messages.
On the other hand, the image built by Kuronen is the only one that exists of Vanhanen's private life. After all, the media has been given interviews only by her, the party who was rejected.
Kuronen's interviews easily give rise to the impression that Vanhanen was interested in nothing but a sexual relationship.
"At least I was left with that kind of a feeling", Kuronen says.
Helsingin Sanomat / First published in print 3.12.2006
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