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Politics of Liechtenstein

Politics of Liechtenstein

64% of voters in Liechtenstein approved a measure to give Prince Hans-Adam II the power to dismiss governments, approve judicial nominees and veto laws. It is the most power of any monarch in Europe. Hans-Adam had threatened to leave the country if the measure was not approved.

According to the constitution of Liechtenstein, the government is a collegiate body and consists of the head of government and four governmental councilors. The head of government as well as the ministers are appointed by the Prince following the proposals of the Parliament.

Amendment to the constitution or new law have to be adopted by Parliament, signed by both the Prince and the head of government, and published in the Principality's Law Gazette.

Prince Hans Adam II is the head of state. He may only exercise his right to state leadership in accordance with the provisions of the constitution and of other laws.

He represents the state vis-ā-vis foreign states. He signs international treaties either in person or delegates this function to a plenipotentiary. Some treaties under international law only become valid when they have been ratified by Parliament.

The Prince's involvement in legislation consists in a right to take initiatives in the form of government bills and in the right to veto parliamentary proposals. The Prince has the power to enact princely decrees. Emergency princely decrees are possible when the security and welfare of the country is at stake. A countersignature by the head of government is, nevertheless, required. The Prince has the right to convene and adjourn parliament and, for serious reasons, to adjourn it for 3 months or to dissolve it.

On the basis of the names put forward by Parliament, the Prince nominates the government, district and high court judges, the judges of the Supreme Court, and the presidents and their deputies of the Constitutional Court and of the Administrative Court of Appeal.

The Prince's other authorities include exercising the right to mitigate and commute punishments that have been imposed with legal force and the abolition---i.e., the dismissal--of investigations that have been initiated. All judgments are issued in the name of the Prince.

The population elects the Parliament directly under a system of proportional representation. Until 1989, 15 members represented the population of the two constituencies (six for the lowland area and nine for the highland area). Since 1989 the lowland constituency has been entitled to have 10 members and the highland area 15.

The Parliament's main task is to discuss and adopt resolutions on constitutional proposals and draft government bills. It has the additional duties of giving its assent to important international treaties; of electing members of the government, judges, and board members of the Principality's institutions; setting the annual budget and approving taxes and other public charges; and supervising the administration of the state.

The Parliament observes its rights and duties in the course of sessions of the whole Parliament and through the parliamentary commissions that it elects. All members of Parliament exercise their mandates in addition to their normal professions or occupations. The president of Parliament and his deputy are both elected at the opening meeting for the current year. The president convenes the individual meetings during the session, leads them, and represents Parliament externally.

During the parliamentary recess--normally from January to February/March--a "state committee" assumes Parliament's duties, and such a committee must also be elected in the case of any adjournment or dissolution of Parliament. A "state committee" consists of the president of Parliament and four other members.

The duties and working procedures of Parliament are laid down in the constitution and in Parliament's standing orders.

The Government of Liechtenstein is based on the principle of collegiality; namely, of colleagues collaborating with each other. The government consists of the head of government and four Councilors. The members of the government are proposed by the Parliament and are appointed by the Prince. Only men or women born in Liechtenstein, and who are eligible to be elected to Parliament, may be elected to the government committee. The two electoral areas of the country, the highlands and the lowlands, are entitled to at least two members of the government, and their respective deputies must come from the same area.

The political parties are in practice politically decisive and are the moving forces with regard to the composition of the government. For the 2001-05 legislature period of office one Councilor and three deputies are women.

From 1938 to 1997 Liechtenstein had a coalition government. Until a few years ago there were only two parties in Parliament, the Fatherland Union[?] and the Progressive Citizen's Party[?]. Liechtenstein's distinctive form of coalition government came to an end in April 1997. The Fatherland Union took sole responsibility for the government during the 1997 to 2001 Parliament, with its members filling all the positions on the government committee. Since 2001 it has been the Progressive Citizen's Party that has provided all the members of the government. The minority parties, as opposition parties, act as a check on the government in Parliament and on parliamentary commissions.

On August 15, in his National Day Address[?], Prince Hans-Adam II announced that after months of intensive negotiations a compromise in the debate on constitutional reform had been reached. On September 13, Prime Minister Otmar Hasler[?] confirmed to Parliament that his government was drafting a bill for Parliament based on the compromise reached between the Prince and the Citizens' Forum. The draft bill, which would increase the executive powers of the monarch, went before Parliament for a first reading in November. Possible further revisions must be discussed with Prince Hans Adam before the bill moves forward for a second reading in Parliament, which had not happened by year's end. If approved by Parliament, the bill then would be presented to voters in a referendum.

Country name:
conventional long form: Principality of Liechtenstein
conventional short form: Liechtenstein
local long form: Fuerstentum Liechtenstein
local short form: Liechtenstein

Data code: LS

Government type: hereditary constitutional monarchy

Capital: Vaduz

Administrative divisions: 11 communes (Gemeinden, singular - Gemeinde); Balzers, Eschen, Gamprin, Mauren, Planken, Ruggell, Schaan, Schellenberg, Triesen, Triesenberg, Vaduz

Independence: January 23, 1719 Imperial Principality of Liechtenstein established; July 12, 1806 established independence from the Holy Roman Empire

National holiday: Assumption Day, 15 August

Constitution: 5 October 1921

Legal system: local civil and penal codes; accepts compulsory ICJ jurisdiction, with reservations

Suffrage: 20 years of age; universal

Executive branch:
chief of state: Prince Hans Adam II (since 13 November 1989, assumed executive powers 26 August 1984); Heir Apparent Prince ALOIS von und zu Liechtenstein, son of the monarch (born 11 June 1968). See also: List of Princes of Liechtenstein
head of government: Head of Government (Regierungschef) Otmar Hasler[?] (since April 5, 2001 and Deputy Head of Government (Regierungschef-Stellvertreterin) Rita Kieber-Beck[?]. See also: List of Liechtenstein Heads of Government.
cabinet (Regierungsteam): Cabinet elected by the Diet; confirmed by the monarch. Current members: Otmar Hasler[?], Rita Kieber-Beck[?], Hansjörg Frick[?], Alois Ospelt[?], Ernst Walch[?]
elections: none; the monarch is hereditary; following legislative elections, the leader of the majority party in the Diet is usually appointed the head of government by the monarch and the leader of the largest minority party in the Diet is usually appointed the deputy head of government by the monarch

Legislative branch: unicameral Diet or Landtag (25 seats; members are elected by direct popular vote under proportional representation to serve four-year terms)
elections: last held on 2 February 1997 (next to be held by NA 2001)
election results: percent of vote by party - VU 50.1%, FBPL 41.3%, FL 8.5%; seats by party - VU 13, FBPL 10, FL 2

Judicial branch: Supreme Court or Oberster Gerichtshof; Superior Court or Obergericht

Political parties and leaders: Fatherland Union or VU [Dr. Oswald KRANZ]; Progressive Citizens' Party or FBPL [Norbert SEEGER]; The Free List or FL [Christel HILTI, Hansjorg HILTI, Helen MARXER, Hugo RISCH, Margrit WILLE]

International organization participation: CE, EBRD, ECE, EFTA, IAEA, ICC, ICRM, IFRCS, Intelsat, Interpol, IOC, ITU, OPCW, OSCE, PCA, UN, UNCTAD, UPU, WCL, WIPO, WTrO

Flag description: two equal horizontal bands of blue (top) and red with a gold crown on the hoist side of the blue band

See also : Liechtenstein



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