Socialist Leader: Nuclear Referendum Begets Change in Bulgaria!

Business » ENERGY | January 27, 2013, Sunday // 20:55| Views: | Comments: 3
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Bulgaria: Socialist Leader: Nuclear Referendum Begets Change in Bulgaria! BSP and PES leader Sergey Stanishev has hailed the results of the referendum. Photo by BGNES

Bulgaria's ex PM and leader of the opposition Bulgarian Socialist Party, Sergey Stanishev, has hailed the results of Sunday's referendum on nuclear energy as the "start of change" against the ruling center-right party GERB.

A little over 20% of the eligible voters in Bulgaria cast their vote in Sunday's referendum on the construction of a second nuclear power plant in Bulgaria; of those, 61% voted "yes", and 39% voted "no". Even though the turnout is not sufficient to make the result of the referendum binding, it is still enough to take the question to the Bulgarian Parliament.

Stanishev saw this result as a win for the Bulgarian Socialist Party, the long-standing promoter of the construction of the Belene nuclear power plant, which in 2012 organized the referendum by collecting 770 000 signatures in favor of a referendum petition.

The chief of the Bulgarian Socialist Party further used the results from the vote to slam him political opponent, Bulgarian Prime Minister Boyko Borisov, and the ruling GERB party.

"Mr. Borisov's behavior is inadequate to the will of the Bulgarian citizens. GERB can now assume only a defensive position, they cannot impose their agenda on the society any more," Stanishev stressed.

"The big loser is certainly Mr. Borisov," he said, promising that the Socialist Party will continue to work in favor of the Belene NPP project – which was terminated by the Borisov Cabinet in March 2012 as "economically unfeasible".

"I would like to thank all those who voted with "yes" or "no". This is what civil society and true democracy are all about. For the first time Bulgarians voted for something positive – so that their children can be engineers and skilled laborers, and not only employed in the service sector. This is very important after the disappointments of Bulgaria's transition in the past 20 years. The cause of nuclear energy in Bulgaria is not a party cause," Stanishev stressed.

Stanishev further thanked the voters of the ruling GERB party who backed the second NPP at the referendum because in his words they proved they "didn't vote according to orders".

"Many didn't vote because of a lack of trust in our political system, others – because party leaders told them not to, others because they thought it didn't matter, and still others – out of fear. Only Bulgaria lost when you didn't vote," he stated.

Stanishev believes that Sunday's referendum was a successful first step "giving a chance for the development of civil society in Bulgaria."

With respect to the low voter turnout, Stanishev reminded that back in 2007 Boyko Borisov was elected Mayor of Sofia with only 200 000 votes out of 1 million voters, while his successor Yordanka Fandakova was elected with a 23% voter turnout at the Sofia mayor elections in 2011.

"The civil society has a future. Change in Bulgaria started today," Stanishev concluded.

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Tags: Sergey Stanishev, GERB, BSP, nuclear energy, Referendum, Boyko Borisov, Bulgarian Socialist Party
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» To the forumComments (3)
Jan Haverkamp - Greenpeace - 28 Jan 2013 // 12:38:30

@Ivanko. It is a pity that the referendum debate did not spent much time on facts. It is important that Bulgarians participate in a discourse on the energy future of the country.

1. Nuclear power is not cheap. Belene would generate electricity prices that are well over twice your current market price. If it would be subsidised even further, you'd pay the difference over your taxes.

2. Greenpeace promotes clean and sustainable energy policies. We need to move away from dangerous sources like nuclear and climate heating sources like coal, oil and gas. Greenpeace has many times provided proposals how Europe, and Bulgaria, can move to a clean, affordable and sustainable energy future. Such proposals were not part of the referendum debate, because strange election committee rules prevented us (yes, we are a also a registered Bulgarian NGO) and other Bulgarian NGOs to get any media attention.

3. The Energy [R]evolution Scenario of Greenpeace and the European Renewable Energy Council, made by the German Institute for Aeronautics and Space - the largest energy modelling institute in Europe - and Ecofys - one of Europe's leading energy efficiency consultancies - shows that on the middle and long term, policies orienting towards efficiency and renewable energy use are cheaper than business as usual scenarios that include nuclear energy. That is also the reason why Germany has chosen that way. On top of that, they create slightly more jobs and the same economic growth figures.

Greenpeace cares - it cares for the planet, it cares for those who are worse of than others on that planet. It also cares a lot for Bulgaria, where our still young Bulgarian office has been actively discussing with people over the last weeks how Belene is dangerous, expensive and supports corruption.

Nationalism is the worst of arguments in the energy debate. Energy is per definition a trans-national issue and nuclear energy certainly. If Belene would be built and something goes badly wrong with it, even I in Poland or the Czech Republic will be heavily impacted. Or of course when I happen to be on one of my frequent visits to Bulgaria or Romania. I did not have a vote in the referendum. You were also voting for all those people outside of Bulgaria.

Are you sure that the people who gave you the arguments you used in your reaction are focused on the well-being of Bulgarians and Bulgaria? Or of Burglaria - the burglars in the country?

Ivanko - 27 Jan 2013 // 23:27:23

IF you get 10% of the voters to sign FOR something and even get 20% of voters on a cold and freezing day after there was huge snowfall I think it is quite clear what Bulgarians want.


Not some Jannies from god knows where.

But I bet that Mr Greenpeace prefers charcoal and gas plants above nuclear ones. Or he might prefer even solar energy, if that has as result that many Bulgarians, who are already struggling to pay their electricity bills, cannot afford to have electricity...

Who cares, certainly not Greenpeace apparently.

How many members did you say you have in B-U-L-G-A-R-I-A?

Jan Haverkamp - Greenpeace - 27 Jan 2013 // 21:56:05

It is maybe fair to notice that the BSP may claim to have gathered 770 000 signatures, but that the Central Election Commission found a third of them (230 000) invalid.

Numbers speak for themselves: the Bulgarian population has dismissed Belene by massively staying home.

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