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Luxembourg Spying Scandal Threatens Juncker Government

Wednesday, 10 Jul 2013 | 9:35 AM ET
Jean-Claude Juncker, Luxembourg's prime minister
Bartek Sadowski | Bloomberg | Getty Images
Jean-Claude Juncker, Luxembourg's prime minister

Luxembourg faced the prospect of early elections being called on Wednesday, with a parliamentary debate about a spying scandal threatening to topple long-standing prime minister Jean-Claude Juncker's ruling coalition.

Juncker, who became prime minister in 1995 and is the European Union's longest serving head of government, is under scrutiny because of his alleged failure to curb abuse of power by the secret service.

The next parliamentary election is due in May 2014. However, it could be brought forward to October this year depending on the outcome of a marathon debate scheduled from 2 p.m. (1200 GMT) on Wednesday.

(Read More: This Is Like the 'Cold War': Europe Fumes Over US Spying)

Luxembourg's parliament will review a report it commissioned on the security agency's illegal bugging of politicians, purchase of cars for private use and allegations it took payments and favours in exchange for access to local officials.

The report concluded that Juncker had limited control over the agency despite being the responsible minister and that he failed to inform either the parliamentary committee of control or justice authorities about its operations.

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All members of the inquiry committee, except for Juncker's centrt-right CSV party, voted in favor of the report last Friday. Coalition partners, Labour, also backed the report.

Claude Meisch, president of the opposition Democratic Party, said Wednesday's debate was likely to show Juncker's government no longer had majority support.

"Either Mr Juncker will present his own resignation or that of the government or there will be a vote on a motion to do the same," he said in a telephone interview.

The Labour party said it did not rule out early elections.

(Read More: US Spying a 'Slap in the Face': EU Lawmaker)

Juncker himself gave a hint as to thoughts on Friday evening at an event at a school in the town of Esch.

"I am happy that I can engage in one of my last acts in my current position in Esch," Juncker said.

Wealthy Luxembourg, a major financial hub, is one of Europe's most politically stable countries. The CSV has led all but one government since World War Two.

The CSV and its Socialist coalition partner hold 39 of the 60 seats in parliament.

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