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Berlusconi urges voters to abstain in referendums

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Berlusconi urges voters to abstain in referendums

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Polls have opened for four referendums in Italy, which could give people the chance to express their anger at Silvio Berlusconi. The Prime Minister’s government suffered losses in last month’s local elections and he is hoping the necessary number of 50 per cent plus one vote is not met due to people not bothering to vote.

Issues include the privatisation of the water utilities and nuclear energy, which is considered to be a key issue, and of which Berlusconi is a supporter.

However, polls show the majority of Italians are against nuclear power – especially in the wake of the disaster at Japan’s Fukushima plant. Last year, the government passed a law to re-start a nuclear energy programme previously stopped by another referendum in 1987, but this has been on pause since the crisis in Japan.

One of Sunday’s referendums is even more personal to Berlusconi, asking whether ministers should not have to attend trials against them.