"ROME -- Italians voted to abandon nuclear power for the foreseeable future, turning out in droves to cast ballots in a packet of referenda whose outcome is a sign of growing popular discontent toward Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi's conservative government.
Mr. Berlusconi's administration had in past weeks urged people not to vote in the four referenda, which were organized by center-left opposition parties and which asked voters whether they wanted to overturn government laws on reviving nuclear energy, privatizing Italy's water supply and giving top government officials partial immunity from prosecution.
Instead, 57% of Italians went to the polls—a number well above the 50% of the voting population needed to make a referendum valid, a threshold last reached in 1995. More than 95% of those who cast their ballots voted 'yes' in each referendum, overturning the four laws in question.
'This was a vote against nuclear energy. But by urging people not to go to the polls, Berlusconi turned this into a vote against himself,' said Giovanni Sartori, professor emeritus of political science at the University of Florence."
Giada Zampano and Nathania Zevi report for the New York Times June 14, 2011.