Official Turnout in Bulgarian NPP Referendum Still Mystery
Nearly twenty hours after the closing of voting polls in Bulgaria's first national referendum since 1989, the Central Electoral Commission is yet to release the official voter turnout percentage.
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?"
A turnout of 21.8% was announced by the 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 equaled that of votes at the last parliamentary elections, 4,225,124, and if more than half of them voted "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%, but the spokesperson of the Central Electoral Commission, Biser Troyanov, stressed Monday it was too early to announce the official percentage, thus the fate of the project to build a second Nuclear Power Plant in the Danube town of Belene remains unknown.
The Commission is currently processing the ballots for the second time.
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.
The ruling, center-right Citizens for European Development of Bulgaria party, GERB, already declared they will submit in the Parliament a new proposal to halt the Belene NPP project. According to them, the referendum results showed Bulgarians do not want to have it.
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