Analysts say early indications point to a heavy defeat for Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi in referendums on nuclear power, water privatisation and trial immunity for government ministers.
The opposition initiated the polls which propose to overturn legislation passed by the government. The turnout of around 57 per cent is more than the 50 per cent required to validate the result.
One voter said “as far as nuclear power is concerned, I voted yes to the cancellation, because we can use alternative forms of energy.”
The prime minister responded to the likely result while hosting a visit from Israel’s Benjamin Netanyahu on Monday.
“Following the decision the Italian people are taking, we must probably say goodbye to the possibility of nuclear power stations and we must strongly commit ourselves to renewable energy.”
The defeat will be seen as another blow for Berlusconi after last month’s disappointing results in local elections.
It could not have come at a worse time for him, still embroiled in a sex scandal and three fraud trials