Foreign media on nuclear energy referendum in Bulgaria

Bulgaria’s first democratic referendum has finished dismally, comments the Austrian Krone daily writes.
Only 1,5 million of the 6,9 registered voters turned out in the referendum about the construction of a new nuclear power plant on Sunday. This is less than a quarter. The voter turnout should have been higher than 60% so that the referendum result was binding. Now the parliament will have to make a decision.

Sunday’s referendum was the first in Bulgaria since the fall of Soviet Union in 1989. It was believed to be a test for the upcoming parliamentary elections in July and about the relations between Bulgaria and Russia, says the newspaper.
Because of the low voter turnout the referendum in Bulgaria about the construction of a new nuclear power plant has failed. According to the unofficial results only 20% of 6,9 million registered voters turned out. The voter turnout should have been 60% so that the result could be binding, writes the German Die Welt daily.

60% of the people who voted supported the construction of a new nuclear power plant close to the town of Belene in the north of the country. If the voter turnout remains over 20%, the parliament in Sofia will have to discuss the issue within three months. Prime Minister Boyko Borisov has already said his party would be against.
The referendum was initiated by the socialist opposition, which insists on restarting the nuclear power plant project.
Bulgarians have voted in favor of a plan to build a new nuclear energy plant in the country’s first referendum since the fall of communism.

But a low turnout means the result will not affect the government’s decision to reject the multi-billion euro project, an outcome welcomed by the prime minister, Boyko Borisov.
But his critics say the result puts pressure on the government ahead of July’s election as it could become a divisive issue.
“Should nuclear energy in the Republic of Bulgaria develop through building a new nuclear power plant?” This is the ballot question Bulgarians gave an affirmative answer on 27 January – 60% against 40% of those who voted in the referendum. However, the referendum failed due to the low turnout – only 20%. According to the Bulgarian legislation this makes the referendum invalid, writes the French L’Express daily.

“This referendum is useless to the dead and buried project,” said the prime minister, who turned out to be helpless before the active supporters of his political rivals, the former communists. They managed to collect more than 500,000 signatures in favor of the referendum – a project that would strengthen Sofia’s energy dependency on Moscow.
Bulgarians voted yesterday (27 January) in favor of building a new nuclear power plant in their first referendum in the post-communist era. However, due to the low turnout, the referendum result is not binding and the matter is referred to Parliament, writes EurActiv.

Slightly over 60% voted for a 2,000-megawatt plant at Belene on the Danube River, exit polls showed. Turnout was slightly above 20%. For the referendum to be binding, a turnout of more than 60% of eligible voters was needed.
The referendum was initiated by the opposition Socialist Party (BSP), which last year gathered 800,000 signatures in favor of holding a referendum for building a new nuclear power plant at Belene.

Under the Constitution, 500,000 valid signatures are needed to hold a referendum. The plebiscite on Belene was the first nationwide referendum in the country’s modern history.
Further it says: “The prime minister’s ruling GERB party was unable to stop the referendum, but it made sure it took place in January, the coldest month in Bulgaria, and removed the name ‘Belene’ from the referendum, which read: “Should nuclear power in Bulgaria be developed through the building of a new power plant?”.
In such conditions, the referendum was seen by many as a test of public support for the policies of Borissov ahead of the parliamentary elections in July.”


29.01.2013, ABOUT BULGARIA