Bulgarians support new nuclear power with low voter turnout.

By bne IntelliNews January 28, 2013
The referendum on the development of nuclear energy in Bulgaria that was held yesterday, January 27, has likely failed due to low turnout. Bulgarians were asked to give their answer to the question "Should we develop nuclear energy in Bulgaria by building a new nuclear power plant?" Some 60.5% of the voters (or around 854,000) support the construction of a new nuclear power in the country, according to preliminary results of the central election commission. Another 38% voted against. The turnout reached 17.4% as of 5pm, two hours before the end of the voting. The projections were for a significantly higher participation but still one that would not be sufficient to make the results valid (at least 4.3mn votes). It is not clear yet whether the issue might still be able to go to parliament for debate and final decision. According to a parallel vote cast by Alpha research, the turnout has exceeded the 20% barrier for that to happen and has reached 21.8%. The initiative to hold a referendum was launched by socialist BSP and was supported by over 500,000 valid signatures after earlier in 2012 the government decided to abandon the plan to build the country's second nuclear power plant in Belene due to lack of strategic investor and excessive cost. Instead, the government decided to build a seventh reactor at the existing plant in Kozloduy. This is the first referendum in the country since 1989. Breaking down the voters by political affiliation shows that followers of right-wind parties, UDF, DSB, CEDB, stand against development of nuclear energy while the main supporters are from socialist BSP. The referendum was considered my many as an unofficial agitation attempt of the socialist party ahead of the July parliamentary elections. Opinion polls indicated that the majority of Bulgarians, who plan on participating in the referendum, would vote in favour of building a new nuclear plant, which effectively questions the current government's decision. Such a result might mean that the government is losing its popularity ahead of the elections in the summer and that BSP may be gaining positions, as already some polls have indicated.

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