2 GERB MPs to Disobey Bulgarian PM in Referendum Vote
The site of Bulgaria's frozen second NPP at Belene. Photo by BGNES
Two Members of the Parliament from the ruling Citizens for European Development of Bulgaria party, GERB, are daring to disobey PM Borisov's orders in voting in the January 27 referendum on nuclear energy.
The two, who will vote "yes," have told the Mediapool site they support the project to build a second Nuclear Power Plant in the Danube town of Belene, halted by the Cabinet in March, 2012.
The MPs, Hristina Yancheva and Ivelin Nikolov, are both from the Pleven voting district on whose territory the NPP would be built.
On January 27, 2013, Bulgarians will have to answer in the referendum the following question: "Should nuclear energy be developed in Bulgaria through the construction of new nuclear power units?"
Initially, senior GERB officials said the party position would be an "yes" answer, but just days ago, Prime Minister, Boyko Borisov, declared that GERB party supporters will be instructed to vote "no."
In what seems to be an U-turn, on Wednesday, during the first session of the Parliament, the Chairman of the GERB parliamentary group, Krasimir Velchev, stressed his party is working for preserving the units at the existing "Kozloduy" NPP and for installing a new 7th reactor there.
However, Ivelin Nikolov, declared he was firm he would vote for having a second NPP in Belene, while Hristina Yancheva said she was a supporter of nuclear energy and alternative energy sources and opposed power plants with harmful emissions such as the thermal ones.
Yancheva pointed out that the issue was not the Belene NPP, but rather the future of atomic energy in Bulgaria and she was voting "yes" for this future, thus her decision was not in contradiction with Borisov's. She further explained she did not see the latter as an order.
But, MPs and GERB officials are said to be in dismay after Borisov's latest change of mind, if for nothing else, simply because of the fact that 76 MPs are registered as initiators of a position "yes" for the referendum.
The specific cause for the convocation of a referendum was the unclear fate of frozen Belene NPP project.
The referendum was sponsored by the Bulgarian Socialist Party, which gathered a petition of more than the 0.5 million legally needed signatures.
In his latest statement, Borisov made it clear that GERB supports nuclear energy in principle, but opposes the Belene NPP. The Bulgarian PM added that the government and GERB are also in favor of the extension of the exploitation lives of currently functioning units 5 and 6 of Kozloduy NPP.
Initially, two entities were to attempt to convince voters to back the development of nuclear energy through building new nuclear units. One of them is an initiative committee formed by the opposition Bulgarian Socialist Party, while the other consisted of the 76 lawmakers from the ruling centrist-right GERB.
Two initiative committees formed by two right-wing formations – the Democrats for Strong Bulgaria and the United People's Party – will try to persuade people to vote against.
Originally, Belene NPP had to be built by Russian state company Atomstroyexport, but the Bulgarian cabinet froze the project in the early spring of 2012 due to perceived lack of economic effectiveness.
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