The Swiss Federal Chancellery said yesterday that 107,533 of the 108,227 signatures on a popular initiative submitted by the Green Party for a partial revision of the federal constitution on the phase-out of nuclear energy are valid, meaning the measure will be put to a nationwide vote.
The initiative calls for a mandatory 45-year operating limit for the country’s five nuclear reactors. If the initiative is adopted by voters, it would mean there would be no nuclear power production in Switzerland after 2029, when the single-unit Leibstadt plant – the last in the country to begin commercial operation – will have been operational for 45 years.
The initiative calls for substituting renewable generation for nuclear power and for an energy policy emphasising efficiency.
The initiative must now be put before federal government and parliament before it is goes to a nationwide vote.
Government and parliament are not allowed to change the text of the initiative, but have the right to make a “direct” counter-proposal – which is then also voted on nationwide – or an “indirect” counter-proposal by amending legislation.
The entire procedure could take up to five years. If a vote is needed to revise the constitution two majorities are required – one from a national vote and one from the cantons.
The Swiss federal government approved a ban on new reactors in May 2011 following the Fukushima-Daiichi accident, but did not set lifetime limits and the measure has not yet been passed into law.
The two Beznau units and Mühleberg have operated for more than 40 years, having started up between 1969 and 1972. Gösgen began commercial operation in 1979 and Leibstadt in 1984.