51% of Bulgarian Expats Say 'No' to Belene NPP
Most Bulgarians abroad have marked a "NO" answer in the country's first national referendum since 1989.
The January 27 referendum asked the question "Should nuclear energy be developed in the Republic of Bulgaria through the construction of a new nuclear power plant?"
Bulgaria's Central Electoral Commission announced Monday the results from voting polls abroad after processing 100% of the ballots.
As in Bulgaria, voter turnout has been very low. 51% ( 2 210) have said "No" to the question which for many has a direct link with plans to build a second Nuclear Power Plant in the Danube town of Belene.
47% (2 055) have answered "Yes." 2% (83) of the ballots were invalid.
The most "Yes" ballots have been cast by Bulgarians living in Russia and Moldova – 87% of Moscow residents and 80% of those of Chisinau.
Bulgarians in Germany, Denmark and South Korea have mostly marked a "No" answer.
A total of 361 Bulgarians went to polls in North and South America. The turnout has been the highest in Toronto – 94, and the lowest in Buenos Aires – 19.
82 voted in New York City and 50 in Washington DC.
The voting stations abroad for Bulgaria's nuclear referendum to see the highest turnout were those in London and Brussels, with 424 votes cast in each, the Foreign Ministry reported Sunday.
There were 44 polls in 35 countries. This time, the polls were located only in Embassies and Consular Offices. On referendum day, the expats who had not applied to vote abroad could go to the nearest poll, if there was one, and be added to the voter list.
None of the 44 polls reported any violations.
A turnout of 21.8% was announced Bulgaria's Alfa Research polling agency after the closing of the polling sections at 7 pm Sunday.
The vote would have been binding if the number of votes equals that of votes at the last parliamentary elections, 4,225,124, and if more than half of them vote "yes".
According to the law, if less people vote on the referendum, but if the turnout is over 20%, and more than half of the votes are positive, then the question is tabled for debate in the Parliament.
The exit polls results mean that now Belene NPP will be put back on the agenda, as the activity slightly exceeded 20%.
61% of the voters have said "yes" to the question; 39% - have cast a "no" ballot.
The referendum was sponsored by the Bulgarian Socialist Party, which gathered a petition of more than the 0.5 million legally needed signatures.
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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