Jouko Leppänen, the chair of the Kouvola city council in southeast Finland, has apologised for the "confusion and disappointment" caused by a Facebook comment, where he defended racist slurs such as the n-word and the derogatory term for Finland's Roma minority, national broadcaster Yle reported.
A week ago, Leppänen wrote they were perfectly normal and even "beautiful".
"It seems utterly inconceivable that in our country, because of pampering, we are forbidden to use terms such as [n-word]", the 61-year-old politician wrote on Facebook. He also noted "suffocation caused by stupid rules and prohibitions", blaming the liberals who, ventured, had been given too much power.
Later, the post was deleted by Facebook as it apparently violated their terms for using derogatory language. However, it still managed to stir outrage in the community.
Jutta Hartikainen of the Kouvola church council, of which Leppänen is also a member, called it "inappropriate language to use in a civilised society" and called on Leppänen to apologise.
Taina Vainio, a coordinator of Kouvola's multicultural centre Saaga, called the incident "sad", admitting that it made her "speechless".
The weightiest criticism, though, came from Leppänen's own party ranks. The National Coalition Party communications chief Kirsi Hölttä also condemned Leppänen's language, stressing that his comments do not represent the views of the party.
"The National Coalition Party's fundamental position is that we must refer to all people respectfully. We think it is wrong to use slurs", she commented.
Following the bitter criticism, Leppänen reconsidered his stance and apologised as desired.
"I no longer wish to pursue the idea that I proposed in my writings because apparently it was a bad one. It resulted in mortification, which goes against my nature and my aspirations and I see that I was stupid and thoughtless", Leppänen admitted in a later mea culpa.
However, Kimmo Ylikangas, the vicar of the Kuusankoski parish in Kouvola, came to Leppänen's defence by describing him as a "sincere and just man", adding that it is difficult to see him as a racist.
The National Coalition Party is a centre-right party in Finland with a liberal-conservative stance, and has traditionally been one of the country's largest. The party has a pro-NATO and pro-EU stance and bills itself a firm believer in tolerance, multiculturalism, and gay rights.