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Italian Referendum on Nuclear Power Growth, 2011
An Italian Referendum on Nuclear Power Growth was held in the country on June 12-13. The Referendum asked citizens to vote of three different issues.
This measure was defeated meaning there will be no implementation of a nuclear power program in the country. Preliminary results show that around 90 percent voted to defeat this measure.
As of June 13, the turnout for this vote had been recorded to be over the needed 51 percent threshold for it to be valid, the Ministry of the Interior reported near 57 percent participation. Early suggestions showed that residents had rejected the plan to reintroduce nuclear power into the country.
This issue was brought forth by a petition submitted in January 2011, but after the nuclear issues in Japan the question was put on hold in March. The goal of the issue is to allow growth and development of nuclear power in the country. The Italian Supreme Court ruled in June that the question will be allowed on the June referendum. The question that will be asked of residents is if the government should allow nuclear growth and if a majority of people vote against the reintroduction of nuclear energy in the country the current moratorium halting nuclear growth could become a permanent part of Italian legislation rather than a temporary one as it is now. The Italian Prime Minister, Silvio Berlusconi had stated that the referendum was not necessary, but opposition parties felt that not allowing the vote ignored widespread discontent with nuclear energy. Italy had initially started to decommission their nuclear power plants after the Chernobyl accident in 1986, but recently the new government had introduced the idea to look into nuclear energy again.
In order for the vote to be valid, there had to be at least a 51 percent voter turnout, of those eligible to vote, a goal which had not been reached in previous votes since 1995. Those campaigning against the restarting of the nuclear program had been out in force during the weekend leading up to the vote and hoped the needed number of voters was reached, especially with the memory of the Japan crisis still in the collective memories of citizens. The Berlusconi government had been doing all it could do to limit voter participation, the goal was that the 51 percent majority would not be reached and they would then be able to go ahead with their nuclear power plans. Berlusconi even noted that he was not going to be voting in this referendum. Italy is the only European country that does not produce nuclear energy, opponents to this measure noted this is the reason for high electricity prices and slow economic growth in the country.
- NPR News, "Berlusconi Waits For Outcome Of Referendums," June 13, 2011
- BBC News, "Italy referendum 'rejects nuclear power'," June 13, 2011
- World Nuclear News, "Nuclear issue back on Italian ballot," June 2, 2011
- Business Week, "Italians vote on nuclear, water policies," June 10, 2011
- The Guardian, "Italy's nuclear power referendum gets under way," June 12, 2011