Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Taking the Nuclear Marbles and Going Home

VoteNoSo how did that vote in Bulgaria go? We mentioned a couple of weeks ago that Bulgaria had a referendum coming up on whether to continue to build more nuclear facilities.
So how did the vote go? Well, you can’t win ‘em all even when you, um, win ‘em all.

60.5 percent of Bulgarians who took part in yesterday’s national referendum voted in support of the development of nuclear energy. Some 6.9 million people had had the right to vote, out of which a mere 1.5 million voters went to the booths. According to the estimates of the Central Election Commission the activity was almost 22%.
Which to my mind means, nuclear energy won – by a lot. Even if 1.5 million qualifies as paltry, it’s still 1.5 million who cared enough about the issue to cast a vote. Everyone else could have voted and abdicated sharing their view by not doing so – insofar as the non-voters had any view at all. That’s how it should work, right? Well, no.
The rules of the election foiled it.
Constitutional rules mean that the referendum would only have been valid had turnout reached the same level as the last general election – around 60 per cent.
But even if it had attained that level, it’s uncertain how the government might have preceded. I’m going to guess that the referendum itself might have been rejected by people largely because it seemed a political play rather than a democratic exercise.
The referendum was forced by the opposition Bulgarian Socialist Party (BSP) after the right-wing government of Prime Minister Boyko Borisov scrapped the construction of the 2000MWBelene NPP on the Danube last year.
This isn’t how this subject is arrayed politically in other EU countries. but there you go. Bottom line:
“In a nutshell: there was a lot of fuss but right now we are back at square one. The direction of further development of the Bulgarian nuclear program is still not clear.”
That comes from Tomasz Daborowski, an energy analyst at Warsaw’s Centre for Eastern Studies. I guess we’ll leave it there. You win some – and sometimes it doesn’t mean a thing.

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