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Liechtenstein: Country and Foreign Investment


Liechtenstein is a hereditary constitutional monarchy, with a democratically elected Parliament (the Diet). A first Constitution was signed in 1862 by Prince Johannes II; in 1921 a Constitution which remained essentially valid until 2003 was promulgated by Johannes II. In 1938 Prince Franz Joseph II became the first Prince to reside in the castle of Vaduz.

Prince Hans Adam II is currently the monarch and Head of State. The cabinet is elected by the Diet and confirmed by the Prince. The Prince usually appoints the leader of the majority party in the Diet as the head of government and the deputy head of government is usually the leader of the largest minority party in the Diet.

In March, 2003, the principality took a step towards becoming an absolute monarchy after a referendum gave the ruling Prince Hans-Adam II sweeping new powers. The vote showed a substantial majority for the Prince, with 64% supporting the move, and 36% against it.

The new constitution gives the Prince the right to veto parliamentary bills, sack the entire government and introduce emergency powers. However the constitution also provides for a further referendum to abolish the monarchy.

In 2004, Prince Hans-Adam II formally transferred the day-to-day running of the principality to his eldest son, Prince Alois. "A large responsibility has come to me today," Crown Prince Alois, 36, told reporters after the handover. "But I have the luxury that my father has included me in many important decisions and so I am well prepared."

The unicameral Diet or Landtag has 25 seats. Members serve a four year term and are elected by universal suffrage using proportional representation.

Liechtenstein law is a mixture of Austrian and Swiss law with some local peculiarities. There is a High Court (Landgericht), a Court of Appeal (Obergericht), and finally a Supreme Court (Oberste Gerichtshof). There is a Constitutional Court with powers in the area of public law.

Liechtenstein has been a member of the EEA since 1995, and a member of EFTA, but does not wish to join the EU. It belongs to the UN, and a wide range of other international organisations.



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