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Monday, July 2, 2012

Liechtenstein referendum rejects curbs on royal powers


1 July 2012

Liechtenstein referendum rejects curbs on royal powers

By Imogen Foulkes
BBC News, Geneva




The people of Liechtenstein have overwhelmingly rejected a proposal to curtail the political power of the royal family.

Despite an almost year-long pro-democracy campaign, 76% of those voting in Sunday's referendum said Crown Prince Alois should be allowed to retain his power of veto over decisions made in nationwide ballots.

Crown Prince Alois, who now carries out public duties in place of his father, Prince Hans Adam, has an unusual amount of power for a western European monarch in the 21st century. His powers were even extended, with the approval of the people, in 2003.

Nevertheless, some Liechtenstein citizens, like pro-democracy spokesman Sigvard Wohlwend, insist these powers are simply too great.

"They are certainly the most powerful monarchs in Europe," he said. "The prince of Liechtenstein still has the absolute right to veto any decision taken by the parliament or even the people.

"They have the right to dissolve the government, to dismiss parliament, and no judges can be appointed without the approval of the prince."
Abortion veto

Matters were brought to a head last September, ahead of a referendum on decriminalising abortion, in some cases, up to the 12th week of pregnancy.

Crown Prince Alois had hinted he might retire from
politics if the referendum yielded a "Yes" vote

In Liechtenstein, more than 90% of the population is Roman Catholic, and abortion is strictly illegal. Women wanting to end a pregnancy have to travel to neighbouring Germany or Austria, and if found out, risk imprisonment.

Just a few days before voters were due to cast their votes, Crown Prince Alois, also Roman Catholic, announced that he would veto any relaxation of the ban on abortion, whatever the voters decided in the referendum. (...)

Full article: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-18649156

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