A conflict of emotions: the ground-breaking ceremony of the construction project “Nuclear Power Plant Zwentendorf” took place on 4 April 1972. It took four year to complete the boiling water reactor with a capacity of about 732 MW. Starting in 1975, however, Zwentendorf was confronted with a growing movement of opposition. Protests against the nuclear power plant increased. Instead of splitting atoms, Zwentendorf divided both parties and opinions.
People from all political parties and ideological backgrounds participated in the protests – a conflict of emotions had begun. On the one side the country’s nuclear opponents, on the other side all those in power: the SPÖ (Social Democratic Party of Austria) government under Bruno Kreisky as well as the trade union, industry, and the chamber of commerce. Expecting a positive outcome, then Austrian Federal Chancellor Kreisky decided to authorise a national referendum to provide a public mandate for commencing the operation of the power plant. The plan backfired, though.