Diplomatic and Military Affairs

Italians say no to nuclear energy in referendum

Updated: 2011-06-14 10:32


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ROME - Italians voted to ban nuclear energy for decades on Monday in a referendum that was strongly influenced by Japan's Fukushima disaster but was also a strong political vote against Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi.

Official figures showed almost 95 percent of votes cast were in favour of blocking a nuclear power revival in earthquake-prone Italy.

Turnout ran at about 57 percent, according to the Interior Ministry, well above the 50 percent quorum needed to validate four referendums, including the one on nuclear power.

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The referendum abrogates a law passed last year restarting Italy's nuclear programme, which had previously been halted in 1987 by another referendum following the Chernobyl disaster.

The government, conscious of the backlash from Fukushima, had recently suspended the nuclear programme in an attempt to undermine the referendum.

But the vote was seen as ending any prospect of atomic energy in this country in the foreseeable future.

It extended the global impact of the Fukushima disaster after Japan was hit by a massive earthquake and tsunami in March.

Italians say no to nuclear energy in referendum

Germany shut down its seven oldest plants after the disaster and decided last month to close all its reactors by 2022, in a major policy reversal by Chancellor Angela Merkel.

Polls show most Italians, like Germans, are against nuclear energy, an emotion increased by Fukushima in a country which is prone to frequent earthquakes.

Berlusconi is a strong supporter of nuclear power.

His centre-right government had argued atomic electricity generation was essential for energy security in Italy, which imports almost all its power and has some of the highest prices in Europe - partly because of the lack of any nuclear plants.


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