Sunday 21 July 2019

PM Juncker survives spy scandal in Luxembourg elections

Raf Casert Luxembourg

The Christian Democrat party of long-serving prime minister Jean-Claude Juncker easily remained the biggest party and the first choice to form a new coalition government following yesterday's Luxembourgelections.

With near complete results, Juncker's CSV will drop almost 4.5 points from the 38 percent of the 2009 elections, but remains well ahead of both Socialist coalition partner LSAP, which hovered just over 20 percent, and the opposition Liberal DP, which made a big move up to 18.5 percent.

Juncker, who is the longest-serving government leader in the European Union with a reign going back to 1995, could form either a centre-left or centre-right government, or face a grand coalition against him of Liberals-Socialist-Greens.

"I am satisfied with the results as far as my party remains the No. 1 party in Luxembourg, with a huge distance between my party and the two other main political parties," Juncker said. "We should be entitled to form the next government."

The Grand Duchy of Luxembourg, which borders France and Germany, has about 515,000 inhabitants. It's a founding member of the EU and a major financial centre, giving it clout well beyond the size of its population. Juncker was head of the eurogroup of nations that shares the EU's common currency between 2005 and early this year.

Often a picture of sedate bourgeois conservatism, Luxembourg was shocked into snap elections this summer after Juncker failed to contain a spying scandal centring on allegations of eavesdropping and wiretapping on politicians, and the keeping of files on ordinary citizens and leading figures dating back to the Cold War.

There also were allegations that state money was used to pay for cars and apartments being used by the small country's security service. Juncker was not implicated, but his coalition partner, the Socialists, told him to take political responsibility and he called the early election.

The scandal punished Juncker's party but it could have been worse. The CSV was expected to drop from 26 to 23 seats in the 60-seat legislature. Projections show the LSAP and DP with 13 seats and the Greens with six.

Irish Independent

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