Citing citizens' fears of nuclear disaster following the damage to Japanese nuclear plants from the earthquake and tsunami in March, the majority government decided to freeze its nuclear energy campaign, said Italy's prime minister, Silvio Berlusconi. A referendum on the return to nuclear power had been scheduled for June 12, but recent surveys suggest that the majority of Italians are against the construction of new nuclear reactors. Opposition politicians and no-nuclear lobbyists claim the measure guarantees a low turnout at the June referendum, which includes other pressing issues, such as plans for the privatization of water services and a key piece of legislation on ‘legitimate impediment' that would exempt Berlusconi from criminal trials when he is in office. Berlusconi said he was ‘sure' that public opinion would ‘calm down in two or three years,' adding that Italy's contracts with French energy firms to build new reactors in Italy 'have not been annulled.'
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