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Juncker survives Luxembourg’s first confidence vote in 150 years

Luxembourg Prime Minister Jean-Claude Juncker, Europe’s longest-serving leader, Thursday survived the tiny nation’s first confidence vote in 150 years.

The motion, brought by the two main opposition parties, said the former Eurogroup head’s coalition government was in an “untenable” position due to allegations that a minister pressured a prosecutor to drop legal proceedings over a series of bombings in the 1980s.

The motion was overturned 41 votes against and 19 in favour thanks to the Socialist party, junior partner in the coalition government headed by Juncker’s Christian Social People’s Party.

Juncker has been in office for 18 years and in government for 30. He stepped down in January as head of the Eurogroup, the 17 nations that use the euro single currency.

The confidence motion by the opposition Liberals and Greens, submitted to parliament by Liberal leader Xavier Bettel, criticises the “ambiguous behaviour of certain members of government towards justice and parliament.”

The last confidence motion in Luxembourg was in 1848 and led to the fall of the government.

Bettel singled out Finance Minister Luc Frieden, a member of Juncker’s party, who in his previous position as justice minister allegedly pressured the state prosecutor to stop legal proceedings against a group accused of a series of bomb attacks in the 1980s.

The proceedings began in February against two police officers accused of involvement in the attacks and the terrorist group, which they strongly deny.

The prosecutor, Robert Biever, has accused Frieden of making repeated efforts to damage the case.

Frieden denies any involvement and on Thursday said the claims were an “unacceptable attack against his honour”.