Liechtenstein Prince Hands Power to Son Alois

Bill Stewart bill.stewart at
Fri Aug 20 02:30:46 PDT 2004

.... the article also has pictures

Liechtenstein Prince Hands Power to Son

Aug 15, 6:26 PM (ET)


(AP) Prince Alois and Prince Hans-Adam II, right, of Liechtenstein toast 
each other in the park...

VADUZ, Liechtenstein (AP) - Prince Hans-Adam II formally handed over 
day-to-day governing powers to his son Crown Prince Alois on Sunday - and 
then invited all 33,000 of Liechtenstein's people to a garden party.

Hans-Adam, 59, retains overall authority over Liechtenstein, the tiny 
nation - one of Europe's smallest - wedged between Austria and Switzerland.

After an open-air Mass, Alois gave his first speech as head of state.

"Many people might ask ... 'Why should we change something that's working 
so well?'" said Alois, 36.

But the country, which owes much of its wealth to being a financial center 
in the heart of Europe, is under pressure to crack down on global money 
laundering, he said.

"The crisis in the financial center as well as the crisis in many European 
states show us how dangerous it can be if necessary, but perhaps 
unpleasant, reforms are not tackled promptly," Alois said. Like 
Switzerland, Liechtenstein has kept itself apart from Europe, remaining 
neutral in World War II and staying out of the European Union.

Under constitutional changes made last year, the powers delegated to Alois 
include dismissing governments, vetoing new laws and casting the deciding 
vote on naming judges.

The electorate has some checks on royal prerogative - it can force a 
referendum on any issue by gathering at least 1,500 signatures. But the 
Council of Europe, the continent's top human rights watchdog, has called 
last year's constitutional changes "a serious step backward" and says it is 
monitoring Liechtenstein's commitment to democracy because the prince has 
acquired such extensive powers.

"Hans-Adam has been a provocateur," says Mario Frick, a former prime 
minister who opposed the prince's constitutional changes. "He liked to be 
in the middle of a quarrel. Many people hope Prince Alois ... will want to 
calm things down."

Alois' spokeswoman Edith Schaedler told The Associated Press there were no 
plans to change Liechtenstein's foreign policy.

"Prince Alois will focus initially more on internal affairs ... to secure 
pensions and health care for the long-term, and to ensure the best possible 
education," she said.

The handover took place on the national holiday, celebrating Hans-Adam's 
father and coinciding with the Catholic feast of the Assumption.

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