From Reuters (6/12/2011):
ROME(Reuters) - Italians began voting in four referendums on Sunday that could strike a new blow against Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi, who is still stinging from heavy local election losses last month.
The centre-left opposition has been leading a spirited campaign to get voters out to cast their ballots on the questions, which concern the privatisation of water utilities, nuclear energy and whether government ministers can be exempt from attending trials against them.
A central issue will be whether enough voters turn out to ensure the necessary quorum of 50 percent plus one vote. But if they repeal existing laws by voting yes, the result will likely have repercussions on his fractious centre-right coalition.....
The referendum on nuclear power is the most emotive of the four, in the wake of the disaster at Japan's Fukushima reactor in March. Polls say most Italians are against nuclear energy, which they consider unsafe in a country prone to earthquakes.
Berlusconi is a big proponent of nuclear power, which the centre right says is indispensable for the future of a country that imports nearly all its energy.
Last year the government passed a law to re-start a nuclear energy programme, which was halted in 1987 by another referendum. Aware of the likely backlash following Fukushima, the government has suspended the plans but a referendum could block atomic power for decades.
Japan's Yomiuri rather anxiously reports that on June 12 alone, 41% of eligible voters (Italian citizens age 18 and above, about 47 million) cast their vote. The voting will close on 3PM local time on June 13, and the vote counting will commence immediately.