ROME—Nuclear power is becoming a major political issue here as the country awaits the formation in April of a new coalition government. Last month a newspaper poll indicated that 72 percent of the public would vote to abandon nuclear power entirely, and a referendum will be needed if the Christian Democrats and their partners in the current government cannot agree on a policy. Shortly after the results were published, the government postponed until later this month a widely publicized national conference designed to present its recommendations on the subject. Italy has only three nuclear power stations, producing 3 percent of the country's electricity.

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