Italy Says No to Nuclear Power — and to Berlusconi

My piece on Italy’s nuclear power referendum is up at Time.

The fallout from Fukushima continues. Concerns about an effort by Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi to revive his country’s nuclear power program helped drive millions of Italians to the polls June 13, when they voted overwhelmingly to block any such revival amid safety concerns following the meltdown in March of the Japanese plant.

Berlusconi’s name didn’t appear on the ballots, which also offered voters the opportunity to overturn laws governing the privatization of water and a controversial measure protecting top government officials from prosecution. But it might as well have. Italy’s law on referendums requires more than a 50% turnout in order to overturn legislation. And while the opposition framed the vote as a referendum on the way the country is being governed, Berlusconi spent the days leading up to the polls challenging the nuclear power measure in court, declaring he wouldn’t vote and suggesting his fellow Italians stay at home too. “This vote was a mix of policies and politics,” says Roberto D’Alimonte, a professor of political science at Rome’s LUISS University. “It was about the issues, and it was about delivering another knockdown to Berlusconi.”

Read the rest.