Liechtenstein is a hereditary democratic constitutional monarchy. The monarchy was established in 1719 and became fully independent in 1866. The executive power is employed by the cabinet, while the government and the parliament exercise legislative powers. The constitution's rule of the principality limits the power of the prince, though he has the authority to invoke Princely Orders during times of emergency. However, the powers of the principality are shared between the citizenry and the monarchy.
The Prince of Liechtenstein
The prince is the hereditary head of state of the municipality of Liechtenstein. Prince Hans Adam II currently holds this position. Adam II delegated the daily running of the affairs of the principality to his son Prince Alois in 2004, but retained his position as head of state. He plays a significant role in the politics of the principality through the appointment government ministers, judiciary officials, accepting laws from the parliament before they are enacted, and opening and closing sessions of parliament. Following a constitutional amendment introduced in 2003, the prince has veto powers, while the citizens are given the constitutional right to vote to overthrow the monarchy. The prince is also the principality's official representative in foreign states.
The Cabinet of Liechtenstein
The cabinet is the top executive body in Liechtenstein, consisting of the prince, the prince regent, the head of government (the prime minister), and four councillors. The prince appoints the prime minister upon the recommendation of the parliament. In order to be elected into cabinet, candidates must be a citizen of the principality and qualify for election into parliament. Members of the cabinet serve four-year terms. The prime minister countersigns orders and laws of the prince, such as the appointment of government officials, as well as performing duties as assigned by the prince. Other cabinet members handle various responsibilities as assigned. The presence of the cabinet members is essential for cabinet decisions to be made.
The Parliament of Liechtenstein (Landtag)
The Landtag is composed of 25 members who are elected by proportional representation to serve four-year terms. The Landtag serves various functions including proposing government bills, assenting to international treaties, approving taxes, creating the annual budget, electing members of the government, appointing judges and other institutional board members, and supervising the administration of Liechtenstein. The legislature is under the direct influence from the citizens who have the constitutional right to conduct a referendum on any of the laws made by parliament.
The Judiciary of Liechtenstein
The principality of Liechtenstein is based on a civil law system, with influences from German, Swiss, and Austrian laws. The judiciary is the independent legal body of the government, and is divided into two major types of courts: the civil and criminal courts; and public law courts. Civil and criminal courts include the Supreme Court, the Court of Justice, and the Court of Appeal. The Supreme Court is the highest court and is composed of judges elected by parliament and appointed by the prince. Supreme Court judges serve for four-year renewable terms while constitutional court judges serve for five-year renewable terms. Public law courts include the administrative and constitutional courts.
About the Author
Benjamin Elisha Sawe holds a Bachelor of Arts in Economics and Statistics and an MBA in Strategic Management. He is a frequent World Atlas contributor.
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