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Duke asks state official to test Luxembourg coalition options

Luxembourg’s Grand Duke Henri on Wednesday tasked a top state official to assess the competing claims of those trying to form a new government after nearly 19 years under premier Jean-Claude Juncker.

Although the veteran politician received the biggest share of the vote in weekend polls, he needs a coalition partner to form a stable government — and the two options open to him are currently holding discussions among themselves about an alternative way ahead.

The head of Luxembourg’s Liberal Party, Xavier Bettel, looks favourite to lead an alliance with the country’s Socialists and also its Greens — despite a smaller share of the vote than Juncker.

After talks with all the key players on Tuesday, the palace announced that Georges Ravarani, who heads Luxembourg’s top administrative court, had been given a mandate to explore “the formation of a new government”.

Following initial discussions, Ravarani will determine which leader should have the first attempt at sealing a workable coalition.

Juncker’s broadly conservative CSV party won 23 MPs in the 60-seat chamber, the Liberals and the Socialists each claiming 13 and the Greens six.

When the results first came through, Juncker claimed the right to be the first to try and form a government, having won the largest share of the vote and number of seats.

However, Bettel insisted that a combined total of 32 seats from three lesser parties constitutes “a parliamentary majority — and that’s what counts”.

Following Tuesday’s talks, the 40-year-old Bettel said he did “not intend” to hold talks with any other parties, having simply focused on reaching an “understanding” on a joint programme of government and not yet officially opened coalition negotiations.