EU’s longest-serving leader to run again in Luxembourg
Luxembourg -- Europe's longest serving leader in office, Luxembourg Prime Minister Jean-Claude Juncker, was nominated last week to lead his Christian Social People's Party (CSV) into the next elections on June 7.
Juncker, 54 and chairman of the 16-nation Eurogroup, has been in power since 1995, when his predecessor Jacques Santer quit to become head of the European Commission in Brussels.
The CSV, 90 percent of whose members backed him in a vote at a party meeting, according to RTL radio, has ruled the Grand Duchy since 1979.
Juncker, who will stand in Luxembourg’s south district and who has no real rival for leadership of the party, has been linked to top jobs in the EU but insists that he prefers to remain in national politics.
Despite some health problems, he seems to have retained the same enthusiasm he had for politics as when, in 1982 at age 28, he entered the government as a junior minister for labor and social security.
Juncker’s popularity remains strong. An opinion poll by the Luxemburger Wort daily from July showed that 86 percent of people thought he was the most popular politician in the country of half a million inhabitants.
However, the June 7 legislative elections, which take place at the same time as elections to the European Parliament, come at a difficult time for Juncker and his party.
The prosperity that he has come to symbolize in Luxembourg is under threat from the global economic crisis, which has hit Luxembourg’s financial sector. The financial sector accounts for almost half the tiny Duchy’s income.