Bulgaria to open referendum voting precincts in 36 countries

Bulgaria will open 45 voting precincts in 36 countries, allowing Bulgarians abroad to cast their ballots in the referendum on further development of Bulgaria’s nuclear power station capacity, scheduled for January 27, Central Electoral Commission spokesperson Bisser Troyanov told Focus news agency on January 7.

The list could yet be expanded further, he said, with three countries still deliberating but expected to give their consent to allow voting in the Bulgarian referendum on their territory.

The voting precincts will be opened in Bulgarian diplomatic missions abroad, with their respective heads given until January 8 to compile electoral lists based on the requests filed by Bulgarian citizens who wish to cast their vote outside the country.

“All the lists will be made public on the websites of respective embassies and the Foreign Ministry, and the names will be removed from the electoral lists inside Bulgaria, as required by law, in order to prevent multiple voting,” Troyanov said.

The referendum is a sequel to a major national political drama around the future of the long-planned Belene nuclear power station. Plans for a new power station at Belene on the Danube have been on the drawing board since the communist era, and after a hiatus, were revived by the Saxe-Coburg administration in 2003.

However, driven the threatened financial burden and a lack of serious investment, Prime Minister Boiko Borissov’s GERB Cabinet said in March 2012 that it was drawing a line under the project.

The saga took a new twist when a mystery investor, said to be a US company but with significant links to Bulgarian figures who have advocated the continuation of Russian-linked Belene, emerged. Through the summer of 2012, the opposition Bulgarian Socialist Party gathered signatures for a national referendum on reviving Belene.

The referendum is to be held, although the specific mention of Belene has been excised from the question, which is about the general principle of further development of nuclear power capacity in Bulgaria.

Bulgaria has a nuclear power station at Kozloduy, of which four units were shut down as a condition for the country’s admission in 2007 to the European Union. Borissov’s Cabinet has made clear its preference to build one or two more units at Kozloduy, expected to cost much cheaper than building Belene from sctrach, and has contracted US firm Westinghouse to carry out a feasibility study.

 (Bulgaria’s sole nuclear power plant at Kozloduy. Photo: uvioc/flickr.com)



The Sofia Globe staff

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