Poll shows Swiss people support government’s energy strategy
If the referendum on the government’s energy strategy 2050 was held two weeks ago it would have passed.
That’s the verdict of the latest poll, which showed 61 percent of voters to be in favour of the Swiss government’s plan for a gradual withdrawal from nuclear power in favour of renewable energy, reported news agencies on Friday.
The energy strategy 2050 was devised following the Fukushima nuclear disaster in 2011 and is spearheaded by energy minister and current Swiss president Doris Leuthard.
Under the plans no new nuclear power plants will be built in Switzerland and the five that do exist – including the world's oldest operating reactor, Beznau I – will be decommissioned at the end of their technically safe operating life.
The strategy will also see a new focus on exploiting hydropower and other renewable resources such as wind and solar power, measures which require changes to the existing energy law.
The issue is due to go to a referendum on May 21st after the right-wing Swiss People’s Party, which opposes the plan, gathered the required number of signatures to force a vote on the issue.
According to the poll by gfs.bern, only 30 percent would vote against the strategy, while nine percent were undecided.
The French and Italian-speaking Swiss are most in favour, with 68 percent of people polled in those regions saying they would vote yes.
Fifty-seven percent of voters in German-speaking regions were in favour.
Politically, 87 percent of Socialist voters said they would vote yes. Voters from most other parties also stated they were in favour except for the SVP electorate, 54 percent of whom were against the strategy.
The SVP’s party line states that the strategy is irresponsible and costly, placing an economic burden on future generations.
Renewable sources would never produce enough reliable energy at a cost-effective price to enable the country to abandon nuclear power, feels the party.
However some accuse the SVP-led committee that launched the referendum of gross exaggeration over the costs of the strategy.
Pro-environment foundation Greina Stiftung alleges the committee lied in its campaign to gather signatures by saying that the government's plans would cost each household 3,200 francs year. The figure quoted by the federal energy office is just 40 francs a year.
After its bid to have the forthcoming referendum cancelled was refused by the Swiss federal chancellery, Greina Stiftung said earlier this week that it was taking its case to Switzerland’s highest court.
If it succeeds in having the referendum cancelled it will be the first time that has ever happened in Switzerland.