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Juncker rival edges closer to Luxembourg PM post

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(Globalpost/GlobalPost)

Luxembourg's Liberal Party leader Xavier Bettel edged closer Thursday to succeeding Jean-Claude Juncker as the nation's premier after Grand Duke Henri called the 40-year-old to a palace meeting Friday.

A palace statement Thursday said the Grand Duke would meet Bettel at 1200 GMT, stoking speculation he will be named to explore the formation of a coalition government with the Socialists and Greens.

The statement made no reference to any other party leader.

Juncker, in office for 19 years and Europe's longest-serving leader, saw his centre-right Christian Social People's party (CSV) win the biggest share of the vote and the largest number of seats in polls last weekend.

When the results came through, Juncker claimed his number of seats gave him the right to be the first to try and form a government. But Bettel insisted that a combined total of 32 seats from three lesser parties constituted a parliamentary majority.

The Grand Duke on Wednesday tasked the head of the country's top administrative court with sounding out political leaders and to report back on the best way to secure a stable government.

Juncker's CSV won 23 seats in the 60-seat Luxembourg chamber, to 13 for Bettel's Liberals, 13 for the Socialists and six for the Greens.

Bettel said after the three parties agreed to cooperate that he hoped to be in a position to finalise a government by early December.

The conservatives have held power in Europe's richest country per capita for all but five years since 1944.

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http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/afp/131024/juncker-rival-edges-closer-luxembourg-pm-post