During the post-war period, Liechtenstein has
developed from an agricultural nation to a prosperous
industry and an important financial center. Politics has
been completely dominated by two bourgeois parties that
have generally formed coalition governments.
For more than four decades, the Progressive Citizens'
Party (FBP) dominated Liechtenstein's parliament, but in
the 1970 election, the Federal Union (VU) won the most
seats. VU then led most governments until 2001. For
almost 60 years, however, both parties always formed
List of most commonly used acronyms containing Liechtenstein. Also includes historical, economical and political aspects of the country.
Prince Franz Josef II, who has ruled since before the
Second World War, handed over power to his son Hans-Adam
in 1984. However, Franz Josef retained the title of head
of state until his death in November 1989.
In January 1989, Hans-Adam disbanded the country
since the FBP had boycotted Parliament's work because of
an intricate political conflict surrounding an art
gallery. Ahead of the elections that followed in March,
the number of mandates in the country day was increased
from 15 to 25.
VU and the PDB were the only parties in Parliament
until the 1993 elections, when the new environmental
party Free List won two seats. The free list has held at
least one seat in Parliament ever since.
The first government crisis
Liechtenstein experienced its first serious
government crisis after the 1997 elections. The PDB
decided to leave the coalition government, for the first
time since 1938. The motivation was that it wanted to
create a real opposition in parliament, but political
analysts spoke of contradictions between the leaders of
both parties. VU formed a government on its own.
The same year, Hans-Adam went into open conflict with
the land day. From time to time, the great powers of the
prince had caused a squeak. Now, in violation of
Parliament's will, he refused to appoint a certain judge
as head of the local administrative court. The same
judge had previously questioned the monarch's strong
influence over the country's legislation. The judge took
the case to the European Court of Human Rights, which in
1999 sentenced Hans-Adam to pay damages for violating
the judge's freedom of expression.
In the 2001 parliamentary elections, the FBP gained
its own majority and now formed its own government, with
Otmar Hasler as prime minister. VU lost voter support,
partly because of opposition to Hans-Adam's demands for
constitutional amendments that would further strengthen
his power (see Political system).
To put an end to the disputes over the powers of
power, Hans-Adam called for a referendum on the
constitution. The opposition raged against the proposal,
and the Council of Europe, after an investigation,
declared that the amendments would constitute "a serious
step back" that could lead to the country being
isolated. Before the referendum in March 2003, the
prince threatened to leave the principality and move to
his residence in Austria if he did not get what he
wanted, and nearly two-thirds of voters supported his
proposal. The turnout was high, about 88 percent.
In August 2004, Hans-Adam II handed over the daily
government responsibility to his son, Alois. Hans-Adam
retained the title of head of state.
A coalition government is formed
The two major parties lost were their mandate for the
Free List in the 2005 election. No one got their own
majority, and the result was that after eight years, the
country again got a coalition government between FBP and
VU. Hasler remained as head of government.
In April 2005, a commission presented its conclusions
after a multi-year investigation into Liechtenstein's
actions during the Second World War. According to the
Commission, the country had not traded stolen Jewish
assets in connection with the war, and no forced labor
had taken place. The investigation of independent
historians had come after accusations from the Jewish
World Congress, WJC.
Liechtenstein's position as a "tax haven" came from
the early 2000s to cause more and more criticism abroad.
After repeated insults, the Principality introduced laws
to combat money laundering and terrorist financing and
other economic crime. However, the "ordinary" tax escape
remained protected. The EU pushed for information on EU
citizens' interest income from savings accounts. But
despite threats of sanctions from the OECD Economic
Cooperation Organization, the Vaduz government has been
stubbornly guarding the country's banking secrecy.
Liechtenstein was found to be placed on the OECD's
"black list" of tax havens.
Thus, the irritation was already great when
prosecutors in Germany in 2008 revealed that hundreds of
Germans were hiding billions in Liechtenstein.
Spectacular tax raids were conducted in Germany. The
German intelligence service had purchased the
information on the tax accounts of a former employee of
a bank in the Principality. Crown Prince Alois, who took
over the government responsibility from his father,
accused Germany of committing a criminal offense by
purchasing the stolen documents, an act he called "an
attack" against his country.
But the secret tax accounts became an increasingly
troublesome issue for the Principality when several
other OECD countries, including Sweden, gained access to
the stolen information and launched their own
investigations. The deal led to new pressure from both
the OECD and the EU to persuade the Principality to
reduce banking secrecy. The prince and Prime Minister
Hasler rejected the charges, but at the same time the
work on restricting banking secrecy continued. In 2009,
the OECD Liechtenstein first withdrew from its "black
list" and then also from the "gray list" of countries
that do not cooperate fully.
In the 2009 parliamentary elections, VU got its own
majority in the country day. However, in the election
movement, the party had promised a continued coalition
with the PDB, and that was the case. VU's Klaus
Tschütscher became new prime minister.
Prior to a 2011 referendum on legalizing abortion,
Alois threatened with veto whether the proposal was
voted on. The proposal was rejected by a slight margin.
The threat of the crown prince resulted in democracy
activists launching a campaign to deprive the prince of
his right of veto against legislative proposals approved
in a referendum. A referendum on such a constitutional
change was held in July 2012, and before the threatened
Crown Prince Alois to leave office if the result went
against him. Now, however, the proposal was rejected by
76 percent of voters.