Paavo Lipponen, who hit social media with his regret, has since gone on to criticise Finland's ethnic solidarity groups
The Finns, a far-right party in Finland, won just 2.7% of the vote in the country's parliamentary elections last month. But in one image, one of their leaders – 36-year-old prime minister Paavo Lipponen – already looked more at home.
A couple weeks after Finnish prime minister Paavo Lipponen admitted he punched a guy in a club (and posted it on social media) Read more
Using his own Twitter account on 11 May, Lipponen, who is responsible for civil defence, which mostly deals with helping with natural disasters, apologised for the incident.
The incident took place in downtown Helsinki on 19 May when Lipponen, out celebrating the closeness of his party's election victory, became involved in a fight. Video of the incident was widely circulated.
Lipponen spent almost a full hour talking with the police. Finland's leading newspapers were critical of the way the prime minister handled the incident. He added that his experience has pushed him to be more honest with his private life.
Lipponen's apology came just six days after the Finnish president, Sauli Niinistö, expressed concern that the Nordic country was not “unique among democratic countries” in not taking violence and xenophobia seriously.
The reaction of people to the video was not negative. Jussi Ahokio, a 28-year-old Helsinki taxi driver, said: “It is OK for someone to behave badly, you get over it, but if he goes to fight someone who is in possession of something that he should not have had – this is entirely reasonable.”
An hour after the incident, Lipponen posted to his Instagram account: “I am sorry to make a video by saying ‘I apologised, I have changed’ [sic]. I did not like being in this situation in a club with plenty of consequences, and wanted to go out. I get that. In the end, I realised that I did something wrong and deleted the video.”
He did not put the video up again. Instead, he took to Twitter, in his first public statement on the incident, to say he could not risk reading any critical responses to his apology. He went on to say that he would take action against anyone who threatened him for apologising, adding that: “I do not tolerate any fight that causes any physical damage to people or objects, including punches that break things or hurt them.”
This is not the first time Lipponen has become embroiled in scandal. In 2014, a controversial video showed Lipponen at a beach party, where he was in high spirits. The video showed him on the beach in his shorts and T-shirt dancing away, seemingly to loud music, kissing a woman in her bikini.
There was also an incident in November 2014, when Lipponen was granted a third divorce from his second wife, Ilmari Lipponen, one month after accepting a 90-day statutory break from his second marriage. The minister of business culture told the Finnish Radio SR that the request was approved because he had “not fought for almost two years and the divorce would be too expensive and complex”.
His opposition and other opposition parties (Kela and the Pirate Party) have called for the end of the prime minister's post of the public relations minister, Heidi Gronkjaer, an Anglo-Irish dual citizen, who has accused Lipponen of appointing “his cronies” to posts.