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Luxembourg's Juncker sets hopes on re-election, despite spy furore

Luxembourg Prime Minister Jean-Claude Juncker has said he aims to stand for re-election after a spy scandal forced him to request an early poll. The country awaits a decision on the political way forward.

Luxembourg on Thursday prepared for the possibility of an early election after the prime minister met head of state Grand Duke Henri to request the poll.

"I described the situation to the grand duke from my perspective, from the perspective of the government," said Juncker. "It is now up to the grand duke to make his decision."

Juncker, pictured, said he hoped to return to lead a new government after a proposed poll in the autumn. However, he said, the choice of candidate lay with his party.

"I would like to run, but my party has to decide that," Juncker said, having discussed the next steps with Grand Duke Henri.

Members of the Luxembourg government have said they intend to remain in power until elections take place, with October 20 touted as a possible polling date. However, the ultimate decision on what happens rests with Luxembourg's grand duke.

"His Highness the grand duke will take time to reflect and will hold consultations," the palace said in a statement that followed the meeting with Juncker. A general election had been scheduled to take place in 2014.

Revelations fracture coalition

Juncker's Christian Democrats have found themselves isolated after a scandal tainting the country's intelligence agency SREL shattered the governing coalition.

The premier's decision to propose an early election came after a seven-hour parliamentary session on Wednesday. During the debate, junior coalition partners the Social Democrats called for early elections and the dissolution of parliament.

By saying he would request the early poll, Juncker was able to avoid two separate votes of no confidence.

The SREL is accused of a spate of misconduct from 2003 to 2009, including illegal phone-taps and corruption. While Juncker - who has been in office for 18 years - admitted to having made mistakes in overseeing the agency, he denied personal responsibility.

Juncker gained international prominence as the first president of the Eurogroup, the council of finance ministers from across the eurozone. He is the EU's longest-serving head of government.

rc/kms (AP, AFP, dpa, Reuters)