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Exit polls show Swiss voting against quick nuclear power exit

In a referendum, Swiss voters came out against a quick phaseout of nuclear power. The main institutional opponents of the measure were the government and energy companies.

Voters have decided against a timetable that would see Switzerland stop using nuclear power by 2029. A projection by public broadcaster SRF showed a 55 percent rejection of the referendum with votes from eight of 26 cantons counted.

A majority of cantons voted against the plan in Sunday's referendum. According to the Swiss direct democracy system, proposals require a majority of both cantons and votes to pass.

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Promoted by the Green Party, the proposal would have called on the government to close three of the country's five nuclear power plants next year and phase out nuclear energy production in the remaining plants by 2029. Switzerland adopted a plan calling for a gradual transition away from nuclear energy but which also allowed for nuclear plants to operate as long as they were deemed safe.

Jürg Buri, head of the environmentalist think tank the Swiss Energy Foundation, said the "No" vote would increase nuclear risks in Switzerland.

"The country will continue flying blind when it comes to energy policy," Buri told Germany's dpa news agency.

The main institutional opponents of the measure were the government and energy companies, which had threatened that a "Yes" vote would lead to blackouts, higher costs and a reliance on dirty coal power from Germany, which plans to close all nuclear plants by 2022 in response to the 2011 Fukushima disaster in Japan - which was also the impetus for Switzerland's referendum.

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sms/tj (AP, dpa)

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