Swiss voters have thrown out a proposal to close the country’s five nuclear power plants after 45 years in operation.
The Green Party initiative was rejected by 54.2% of the vote, according to final results.
Only six of the country’s 26 cantons, mainly in French-speaking Switzerland, came out in favour of the phase out.
“Opponents seem to have convinced voters that an exit could lead to a shortage of electricity supplies,” says political scientist Claude Longchamp.
Regula Rytz, president of the Green Party, said the high number of yes votes confirmed that citizens wanted to opt out of nuclear power in the long run.
The association of electricity companies said it was a decision based on “common sense”.
Turnout was average, at 45%. More than 106,000 citizens, including registered Swiss Abroad, were able to vote online as part of a long-running trial with e-voting. Nearly 26% of them used this channel, according to the Federal Chancellery.
Supporters of the initiative argued the safety of old reactors, operating since the early 1970s, could no longer be guaranteed. Instead, they called for more energy efficiency and renewable energy resources.
“An orderly phase out creates more safety and protects our country,” according to the campaign slogan of the initiative committee.
If approved, three plants would have had to close as early as next year and Switzerland would phase out nuclear energy production by 2029.
The proposal was backed by an alliance of leftwing parties, trade unions and environmental organisations.
Most of the Swiss nuclear reactors have unlimited operating licences, which are subject to approval by the regulator.