Juncker’s Fate Unclear as Luxembourg Voters Head to Early Polls
Luxembourg Prime Minister Jean-Claude Juncker, the European Union’s longest-serving head of government, faces an uncertain outcome from early national elections that will decide whether he can retain the post he has held for more than 18 years.
Luxembourgers go to the polls today to decide on their next parliament. The political make-up, which will be known by tonight, will also reveal whether Juncker’s Christian Social People’s party, or CSV, can stay in government. A coalition with the Socialists seems less likely after his party’s long-term partner called for Juncker’s resignation over his responsibility in a spying scandal that gripped the country for months.
Juncker, who turns 59 in December, has been Luxembourg’s premier since 1995. Juncker was left with no choice but to call for an early vote at the end of a marathon parliamentary hearing on July 10, during which the Luxembourg Socialist Workers’ Party, his coalition partner for years, submitted a motion that the prime minister call early elections.
Luxembourgers will decide today whether the CSV will stay strong enough to remain in government and who will be its most likely coalition partner for the next five years. CSV has been in government since 1945, except for the five years between 1974 and 1979.
Polling stations will be open from 8 a.m. until 2 p.m. CET.
Juncker, a driving force behind the euro currency, stepped back from the front lines of Europe’s debt crisis in January, when he ceded the presidency of the Eurogroup, a post he had held since 2005, to Dutch Finance Minister Jeroen Dijsselbloem.
A signatory of the 1992 Maastricht Treaty that created the European Union and led to the introduction of the single currency, Juncker served as an intermediary between Germany and France in hammering out the deficit-limiting stability pact in 1996 and in softening it in 2005.
The challenge to Juncker came after a July 5 report to parliament that said he was “politically responsible” for failing to inform lawmakers of “irregularities and supposed illegalities” by the State Intelligence Service.
Luxembourg Finance Minister Luc Frieden, whose party is the same as Juncker’s, said in an interview in July that early elections would be “positive” for economic policy and allow the government quickly to resume work again.
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