[an error occurred while processing this directive]
BBC News
watch One-Minute World News
Last Updated:  Sunday, 16 March, 2003, 16:12 GMT
Liechtenstein prince wins powers
Prince Hans-Adam II
The prince threatened to go into exile in Austria
The people of Liechtenstein have voted to make their prince an absolute monarch again.

Early results showed nearly two-thirds of the tiny principality's electorate had agreed to back Hans-Adam II's demands.

Correspondents say there was a bitter campaign leading up to the vote.

Hans-Adam even threatened to quit the country his family have ruled for 300 years if he did not like the outcome.

But that appeared forgotten once the first votes were counted.

"It's an excellent result. We can be very pleased with it," the prince told local radio.

Hans-Adam - Crown Prince of Liechtenstein since 1989 - already had the right to dissolve parliament and call elections.

But he wanted the power to hire and fire governments for the 160-square-kilometre (62-square-mile) country - the sixth smallest in the world.

Dictatorship fears

The prince's supporters claimed he simply wanted to iron out ambiguities in the constitution. But critics, like Sigvard Wolhwend of the Democratic Secretariat Party, warned that granting the prince more power could turn Liechtenstein into a dictatorship.

Map showing Liechtenstein's location between Austria and Switzerland
"He has more than enough power and it's not democratic to have the head of the state who is uncontrollable and has the power to dismiss parliament and government whenever he feels like it. I think that's the real, real bad thing."

The BBC's Emma Jane Kirby in the capital, Vaduz, says the people of Liechtenstein faced a difficult dilemma.

Although many citizens oppose an absolute monarchy, they are also very attached to the royal family, she says.

As such, they decided to grant Hans-Adam his wish rather than wait to find out if he would carry out his threat to leave Vaduz castle and move to his alternative residence in Austria.

Liechtenstein banking crackdown
20 Jul 00 |  Business
Country profile: Liechtenstein
25 Apr 01 |  Country profiles
Timeline: Liechtenstein
25 Apr 01 |  Europe

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites


News Front Page | Africa | Americas | Asia-Pacific | Europe | Middle East | South Asia
UK | Business | Entertainment | Science/Nature | Technology | Health
Have Your Say | In Pictures | Week at a Glance | Country Profiles | In Depth | Programmes
Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific