Italy can hold nuclear referendum

13 January 2011

A ruling by Italy's Constitutional Court makes possible a referendum on the partial repeal of laws allowing the construction of new nuclear power plants.  


The Constitutional Court decision is the culmination of a process that began with the April 2010 proposal for a referendum from centrist political party Italia dei Valori (Italy of Values). A petition by the party successfully gathered the 500,000 signatures of Italian voters needed for the referendum to proceed through the Italian legislative system. This was presented to the Constitutional Court for it's final ruling on the admissibility of the proposed referendum. Italia dei Valori leader Antonio Di Pietro is an outspoken opponent of nuclear power.

According to the Italian Nuclear Forum, the referendum would be held on a Sunday between 15 April and 15 June this year, with the exact date to be announced by the president of Italy after consideration by the Council of Ministers.

Italy chose to phase out nuclear power in a 1987 referendum, and has not operated a nuclear power plant since 1990. However in recent years the country has been moving back towards nuclear power production. A change in government policy in 2008 marked the beginning of plans for a program of nuclear construction to reduce the country's dependence on oil, gas and imported power. Currently four large reactors are proposed by the utility Enel in cooperation with Electricité de France, while other European utilities are highly interested in the emerging nuclear market.

The proposed referendum concerns the partial repeal of several laws introduced since 2008 to enable the construction of new Italian nuclear power plants to go ahead. Legislative referenda in Italy require a quorum of over 50% of all eligible voters to cast their vote in order to be valid. This is one of the highest quora in Europe, and no Italian legislative referendum has been able to reach it in over a decade.

Researched and written
by World Nuclear News