Liechtenstein Prince Hands Power to Son Alois
bill.stewart at pobox.com
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)
By HARRY ROSENBAUM
(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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