Liechtenstein Basic Information

By | July 21, 2022

Basic information about the territory

Liechtenstein Basic Information

Subchapters:

  • System of governance and political tendencies in the country
  • Foreign policy of the country
  • Population

The system of governance and political tendencies in the country

The official name of the state is the
Principality of Liechtenstein, abbreviated Liechtenstein – German: Fürstentum Liechtenstein.
According to the constitution, Liechtenstein is a constitutional hereditary monarchy – in the male line – built on democratic and parliamentary foundations. The Constitution of 1921 is based on a consensus between the prince and the population, it is a so-called dual system in which the monarch shares state power with the people. The prince confirms the laws approved by the parliament, decides on fundamental issues of foreign policy and represents the state externally. His right is also to appoint the prime minister and ministers. Nevertheless, residents have the opportunity to directly influence legislation by voting in referendums.

The Liechtenstein parliament has 25 members, of which 15 are from the so-called Upper Land (Oberland) and 10 from the so-called Lower Land (Unterland). The parliamentary term is 4 years. The government has 5 members: the president, his deputy and 3 ministers. The administration of the country belongs to the government, which is responsible to the parliament and the prince.

Composition of the government from 25/03/2021
· Daniel Risch (VU) – Prime Minister and Minister of Finance
· Sabine Monauni (FBP) – Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of the Interior, Environment and Economy
· Dominique Hasler (VU) – Minister of Foreign Affairs, Education and of sport
· Graziella Marok-Wachter (VU) – Minister for Infrastructure and Justice
· Manuel Frick (FBP) – Minister of Social Affairs and Culture

Political atmosphere in the country
The situation in the country has been politically stable and continuous for a long time. The government, formed by the so-called Grand Coalition, enjoys a high degree of trust from the population, which was also confirmed in the last parliamentary elections in February 2021. The two largest political parties – the Christian Social Party Vaterländische Union (Patriotic Union) and the liberal conservative party Fortschrittliche Bürgerpartei (Progressive Civic Party) became the clear winners of the election with the same share of votes of 35.9%. In the end, the Patriotic Union narrowly won by 42 votes. However, both parties won an equal number of 10 seats in the unicameral 25-member Land Assembly (parliament). Of the remaining 5 parliamentary seats, the ecologically and socially democratic-oriented Freie Liste party took 3 mandates, and the Demokraten Pro Liechtenstein party (Democrats for Liechtenstein) won 2 seats. Check computerminus to learn more about Liechtenstein political system.

The government’s program statement for the period 2021-2025 focuses mainly on sustainability: social, economic, financial and environmental. A big topic is the digitization of the country and the reform of the health and pension system. Liechtenstein’s population is aging and current pension funding is not sustainable in the future. Reform of the education system is also necessary for the country to maintain a highly skilled workforce in the coming years.

Foreign policy of the country

Foreign policy is based on the principles of sovereignty, independence and neutrality of the country. According to the government, flexibility is an important element of Liechtenstein’s foreign policy. According to the constitution, the government and the ruling prince participate in the formation of foreign policy and its implementation, who has the right of veto in relation to the government on foreign policy issues. Considering that Liechtenstein is a state without its own army, state treaties in bilateral relations with neighbors are of fundamental importance for them: the most important relations are Switzerland and Austria, followed by Germany, Italy, the USA and Great Britain. Multilateral diplomacy and anchoring in international institutions are indispensable for the small principality. It is in the membership of the OSCE since 1975 and the Council of Europe since 1978 that Liechtenstein sees guarantees for its activities in the multilateral field. The country is from In 1990 it also became a member of the UN and 5 years later it joined the WTO. For the principality, the connection to the EU is absolutely essential, not only from a political but also an economic point of view. Check relationshipsplus for Liechtenstein defense and foreign policy.

Liechtenstein’s relations with the EU
Although Liechtenstein only became a member of the European Free Trade Association (EFTA) in 1990, its membership can be counted de facto through the customs union with Switzerland since the establishment of the EFTA in 1960. Liechtenstein was aware that full membership in the EU would bring certain problems especially to its banking sector, therefore it welcomed initiatives within the framework of the EFTA to negotiate an agreement with the EU – the creation of the so-called European Economic Area (EEA). He has been a member since 1995.
The further need for “corrections” in the country’s foreign policy in the sense of getting closer to the EU became apparent after Switzerland joined the Schengen area in 2008. Since 2011, Liechtenstein has also been a member of Schengen, under similar conditions as Switzerland; although personal checks have been abolished at the borders, customs checks can still be applied, as the country is not in the customs union. Among other things, Liechtenstein fully participates in the Dublin system for determining competence when granting asylum applications.
According to a 2020 survey, Liechtensteiners have a positive view of EEA membership. It creates a good starting position for the further development of relations with the EU and European countries. Through the financial mechanisms of the EEA, Liechtenstein, together with Norway and Iceland, provides a financial contribution intended for the “new” EU member states. In the years 2014-2021, it was a sum of billion euros, of which Liechtenstein’s contribution was 1million euros.

Liechtenstein’s relations with the Czech Republic
The seven-year history of mutual relations was burdened by property disputes after the Second World War. Diplomatic relations were thus only established in 2009. Today, in bilateral relations, the Czech Republic and Liechtenstein focus on the development of culture, education, cooperation in the economic field and in foreign policy, primarily in European associations and on multilateral forums. Consultations between representatives of both foreign ministries take place regularly, and a number of joint projects are underway, such as the Czech-Liechtenstein Commission of Historians. Both countries have diplomatic representation at the highest level: the Liechtenstein embassy for the Czech Republic is based in Vienna, the Czech embassy for Liechtenstein in Bern (there is no foreign embassy in Liechtenstein and most ambassadors are accredited from Bern). Czech-Lichtenstein relations continue to be complicated by property disputes of the princely family, which are being resolved in Czech courts and which have not yet been concluded. In this context, Liechtenstein filed a complaint against the Czech Republic with the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) in August 2020. The ECtHR has not yet commented on the next course of action.

Population

With 39,315 inhabitants and 160 km², Liechtenstein is one of the smallest countries in Europe and the world. The country is divided into 11 districts/municipalities. The most populous city in Liechtenstein is Schaan with 6,000 inhabitants. About 5,700 people live in the capital Vaduz. More than a third, i.e. 34.5%, of the total population are foreigners, most often Swiss, Austrians, Germans and Italians. Approximately two dozen Czechs live permanently in Liechtenstein.

Demographic composition (as of 31 December 2021)
Population: 39,315
Foreigners: 13,533

Further detailed population statistics as of 31/12/2021 will be published by the Liechtenstein Statistical Office only at the beginning of October 2022. Therefore, all the following data are data for the year 2020.

· Citizens aged 15-64: 25,982
· Citizens over the age of 65: 7,087
· Average age: women – 42.31 years, men – 41.51 years
· Population growth: in the year-on-year comparison of 2019 and 2020 it increased by 0.8%
· Population density: 241 persons per km²

Religious composition
· Roman Catholic Church – 79.9%
Evangelical Reformed Church – 8.5%
Islam – 5.4%

Official language
German