A popular campaign pin from 1980.

Thirty Years Since Historic Nuclear Vote

Thirty years ago today, on March 23, 1980, Swedes cast their vote in a referendum to decide the most divisive political question of the 1970s. An issue that sunk the first non-Social Democrat government in forty years, struck fear in the hearts of politicians, and mobilized colorful grassroots campaigns that became seared into the memory of a generation.

That question was nuclear power.

But the referendum was not a simple “yes or no” vote on whether to build reactors or phase them out. No, the vote was a choice between three different lines of thought, of which the first two were rather similar. Some commentators at the time called it a “democratic charade,” a vote where “no” was the only option, albeit in varying degrees. In the end, public opinion was so strongly negative that politicians were too fearful of putting a clear “yes to nuclear power” on the ballot.

Click on the link to hear Radio Sweden's Linda Nyberg tell the rest of the story.

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