Jan. 27, 2013, midnight
The Bulgarian referendum held on January 27, 2013 failed due to a low turnout. The referendum, which would determine whether or not to build a new nuclear power plant, failed to meet the threshold of 60 percent turnout—the number of people who participated in the last parliamentary elections. Although 61 percent of participants voted in favor of the nuclear plant, only 20 percent of registered voters participated (1405463 votes out of 6950900 registered voters). This amounts to a 68 percent drop compared to turnout in the July 2009 parliamentary elections.
The 2000-megawatt nuclear plant has been under construction in the northern town of Belene since 2008, by the Russian nuclear vendor Atomstroyexport. However, it was abandoned by Prime Minister Boyko Borisov’s ruling center-right GERB party, on grounds of its steep costs, a lack of foreign investment, and a breakdown in negotiations between the government and Atomstroyexport. Opposition parties like the Bulgarian Socialist Party (BSP) subsequently demanded the issue be put to a referendum. The failure of the referendum is seen as a major loss for the opposition.