Bulgaria Faces Referendum on Nuclear Energy
Some 6.5 million voters are to participate in a referendum this weekend about expanding atomic energy in Bulgaria. Observers see the potential for a power play between the country’s two biggest parties.
Whether or not the first referendum in Bulgaria’s post-Communist history will even be valid is debatable: the law says that participation in the referendum cannot be dramatically less than that of the past parliamentary election. For this referendum, scheduled for Sunday, that means voter participation of at least 60.2 percent.
Recent surveys show that a majority of Bulgarians would likely vote for expanding nuclear energy in the country. But public opinion research institutes assume that far fewer than 60 percent of the population will actually vote – which would see the referendum collapse.
The issue on the referendum ballot verbatim: “Should nuclear energy be further developed through the construction of a new atomic energy plant?”
The matter has been debated for years. Bulgaria – in the lead up to its accession to the European Union in 2007 and under pressure from the European Commission – decided to shut down four of its total of six VVER reactors at the Kozloduy nuclear power plant located on the Danube River. The reactors of Soviet design were considered antiquated and classified as dangerous.
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