Social Democratic MP Erkki Tuomioja denies that he is seriously suggesting the rationing of petrol. On Tuesday Tuomioja qualified comments he had made on Monday at a panel discussion of candidates for the SDP chairmanship, saying that he put the ideas forward just for the sake of argument, and not as a serious proposal. Tuomioja, one of a number of contenders for the SDP party leadership, says that he mentioned the introduction of gasoline coupons as one possible example of ways to reduce overall consumption of fuel to an environmentally sustainable level. He said this would create environmentally-friendly petrol market. "The truly environmentally conscious could, of course, simply tear up the coupons," Tuomioja added. Writing later in his blog, Tuomioja noted that pondering hypothetical options in the context of overly serious politics can be dangerous. "The saddest misunderstandings are from those who see 'communism' in the proposal. In communist countries, market mechanisms were not used at all, and the environment was often damaged in a much more care-free manner than market economy countries through excessively low prices of energy, for instance." No Reaction from Other Candidates
The other SDP leadership candidates who were present at the debate did not take issue with Tuomioja's musings. However, Seppo Eskelinen, chairman of the SDP's North Karelia district organisation lashed out at the idea.
"It seems that Erkki Tuomioja has no idea that Finland is bigger than the Helsinki region. Only a man who has been driven around in the back seat of an official car much of his life can think like that."
In a statement issued on Tuesday, Seppo Eskelinen added that people in Karelia remember the years of shortages, and the rationing coupons that were used, which did not leave many fond memories.