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Juncker sidelined as Luxembourg's royal palace steps in

The Grand Duke of Luxembourg has intervened in a bid to bring a new government to power in the country. The move isolates long-serving Prime Minister Jean-Claude Juncker, who has been dogged by a surveillance scandal.

Juncker (pictured above), who has served for 18 years, called an early election in July amid accusations he failed to adequately monitor the actions of the State Intelligence Service (SREL). His Christian Socialist Party - in power since 1974 - won 23 seats in Sunday's elections, ahead of 13 each for the Liberal Party and the Socialist Party and six for the Greens Party.

The royal palace responded on Friday by calling Liberal leader Xavier Bettel to a meeting with Grand Duke Henri, who urged Bettel to form a coalition with the Socialists and the Greens in a bid to reach a slim 32-seat majority in the 60-seat parliament.

The three parties have already said they are willing to form a coalition, putting the long respective reigns of Juncker and the CSV in jeopardy.

"Having taken note of the willingness [of the three parties] to form a new government, [Grand Duke Henri] has tasked Bettel with forming the new government," a palace statement said.

The potential alliance has been called a ‘Gambia' coalition, after the red (the Socialists), blue (the Liberals) and green (the Greens) stripes of the African nation's flag.

Majority needs to rule

Bettel had already dismissed Juncker's claims of his right to try and form a government after winning the most seats, saying "a parliamentary majority" was needed, "…and that's what counts."

Juncker is the European Union's longest-serving head of government and has been a central figure in fighting the continent's debt crisis. He led the Eurogroup of euro zone finance ministers until January.

ph/rc (Reuters, AFP)