Bulgarian President Rosen Plevneliev has set Jan. 27 as the date for a national referendum on whether to build a new nuclear power plant in the Balkan country.

The vote was demanded by opposition Socialists who collected more than 500,000 signatures challenging an earlier government decision to scrap plans for a second nuclear plant.

Earlier this year, the government dropped a 2,000-megawatt nuclear project citing lack of interest by Western investors. The previous Socialist-led government had chosen Russia's Atomstroyexport to build the plant.

Analysts, however, expect the January vote to fail because a tough turnout provision requires the number of voters to match that of the last parliamentary elections — some 4.25 million out of a population of 7.3 million.