Opinion poll projects low turnout for Bulgaria’s nuclear referendum

Between 27 per cent and 37 per cent of Bulgarians intended to vote in Bulgaria’s referendum on January 27 2013 on the further development of nuclear energy capacity in the country, according to a poll by the National Centre for the Study of Public Opinion (NCSPO) made public on January 23.

The poll was carried out using a representative sample of 1000 people, between January 16 and January 20. NCSPO said that the last week of campaigning before the referendum could still change voting intentions.

The referendum is being held after a petition campaign by the opposition socialist party in 2012 after the centre-right Cabinet said that it was dropping plans, that date back three decades, to build a new nuclear power station at Belene on the Danube.

Ruling party GERB eventually voted in favour of holding the referendum but in the process of negotiations the specific reference to Belene was removed and the question now is solely about building new nuclear energy capacities.

The main reason for the expected low turnout was a prevailing opinion that the outcome of the referendum would not have any impact on future policy decisions, NCSPO said.

For the referendum to be valid, a turnout of about 4.3 million is required, a number that appeared far out of reach, according to NCSPO’s poll.

Among those who intended to vote, about 60 per cent of respondents said that they intended to vote ‘yes’.

The strongest support came from voters who identified themselves as supporters of the socialist party and the ultra-nationalist Ataka, which has a long history of opposing the shutdown of Bulgaria’s nuclear reactors (Bulgaria agreed to dismantle four units at Kozloduy nuclear power plant as a pre-requisite to joining the European Union in 2007).

GERB’s supporters were split evenly, whereas voters identified themselves with the Movement for Rights and Freedoms and Bulgaria for Citizens parties were more likely to vote “no”.

(Photo: Rama)



The Sofia Globe staff

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