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Luxembourg PM Juncker under threat as opponents seek coalition

Luxembourg's Prime Minister Jean-Claude Juncker leaves a meeting with Grand Duke Henri at the Grand Ducal Palace in Luxembourg July 11, 2013
Luxembourg's Prime Minister Jean-Claude Juncker leaves a meeting with Grand Duke Henri at the Grand Ducal Palace in Luxembourg July 11, 2013

LUXEMBOURG (Reuters) - Luxembourg Prime Minister Jean-Claude Juncker was facing the end of a 19-year run in power on Tuesday after the centre-right Democratic Party (DP) said it would begin coalition talks with would-be partners, the Socialists and the Greens.

Juncker's Christian Social People's Party (CSV) has led governments in the tiny state between France, Germany and Belgium for all but five years since World War Two, but lost three seats in an election on Sunday to leave it with just 23 in the 60-seat parliament.

That was the party's worst showing since 1999. The Democratic Party and the Socialists both won 13 seats and the Greens six.

"We will contact them to come together tomorrow to see if there is a possibility to work together in the coming five years," DP leader Xavier Bettel told RTL television. "It's a realistic option."

Juncker has been a central figure in Europe's debt crisis, heading the Eurogroup of euro zone finance ministers until early this year. He said on Sunday he believed the CSV would be asked by Luxembourg's grand duke to form the next government.

The grand duke, who typically nominates a politician to lead coalition talks, is set to receive party presidents from Tuesday.

Luxembourg, with a population of just over half a million people, is the one of the world's smallest countries, but is a vibrant financial centre. It is second only to the United States for investment funds and is also a leading private banking hub.

(Reporting by Michele Sinner, writing by Philip Blenkinsop; editing by Patrick Graham)

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