October 14, 2018 / 6:48 AM / 8 months ago

Centre-right seen returning to power in Luxembourg election

LUXEMBOURG (Reuters) - Luxembourg began voting in a parliamentary election on Sunday, with opinions polls showing the centre-right party will end its first term in opposition since World War Two at the expense of the liberal-led government.

Voting began at 8 a.m. (0600 GMT) and was due to end at 2 p.m. with most results expected in the evening.

Surveys indicate that the Christian Social People’s Party (CSV) - which was led for 19 years by EU chief executive Jean-Claude Juncker and is by far the biggest group - will end Xavier Bettel’s five years as prime minister.

However, the CSV could fall short of an outright majority in the 60-seat chamber, meaning its leader Claude Wiseler would need an ally in one of the three governing parties - Bettel’s Democratic Party, the Socialist Worker’s Party or the Greens.

Those parties took advantage of voters’ discontent in 2013 when Juncker called a snap election after a wire-tapping scandal, pushing the CSV out of government for the first time since the war.

However, the foreign policy of the European Union’s wealthiest but second-smallest state is unlikely to change much.

To avoid isolation in the EU, Luxembourg has been adapting its economic model, recently ending bank secrecy under pressure from bigger neighbours which have called it a centre for tax avoidance.

Financial services is the largest sector in the Grand Duchy’s economy, which was once dominated by steel.

Unlike some neighbours, where real or feared migration has boosted anti-immigrant parties, the far right has made no inroads in Luxembourg. However, in 2015 Luxembourgers decisively rejected giving the vote to the 48 percent of the population who are foreigners, mostly from Portugal, France and other EU countries.

Reporting by Philip Blenkinsop; editing by David Stamp

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