LUXEMBOURG - Voters in tiny but wealthy Luxembourg went to the polls Sunday, with Prime Minister Jean-Claude Juncker, Europe's longest-serving leader, facing a tough battle to extend his 18-year rule after a spy scandal.
Just under 240,000 people were called to the ballot box in the EU's richest state per capita for an election brought forward by seven months after the discovery of misconduct in the secret services.
Juncker's centre-right Christian Social People's Party (CSV) has won every election bar one in Luxembourg since its establishment in 1944 but the prime minister's coalition with the socialist party splintered over misdemeanours by the SREL spy agency.
The 58-year-old Juncker came under fire for concentrating too much on his role as head of the eurozone finance ministers during the bloc's debt crisis and taking his eye off domestic issues.
The SREL, which Juncker oversees, was accused of a series of scandals ranging from illegal phone-tapping to dodgy dealing in luxury cars.
Casting his vote, Juncker said: "I want the CSV to remain the strongest party so that we can govern for the next five years. If this is not the case, I will be an opposition MP."
Polls show the CSV is expected to lose seats in the 60-member parliament but likely to remain the country's dominant political force.
Though Luxembourgers deem Juncker competent to continue to steer the state, surveys show a younger generation of politicians increasingly picking up support, notably 40-year-old Liberal Party chief Xavier Bettel.
Also expected to make gains in the weekend vote is Greens newcomer Francois Bausch. who for the past three years has run the Luxembourg town hall with Bettel.
Bettel and Bausch have made no secret of their hopes of forming a coalition government without Juncker's Christian Democrats.
But they would need backing from the Socialists, who withdrew their support from Juncker amid the spy scandal.
Socialist leader Etienne Schneider said it was "time for change" on his Facebook page.