Liechtenstein is a principality governed under a semi-constitutional monarchy. It has a form of mixed constitution in which political power is shared by the monarch and a democratically elected parliament. There is a two-party system (though there are two minor parties as well) and a form of representative democracy in which the prime minister and head of government is responsible to parliament. However the Prince of Liechtenstein is head of state and exercises considerable political powers.

The executive power is exercised by the Cabinet of Liechtenstein (government). Legislative power is vested in both the government and the Landtag (Parliament). The party system is dominated by the conservative Progressive Citizens' Party and the liberal-conservative Patriotic Union. The Judiciary is independent of the executive and the legislature.

The country replaced universal male suffrage with universal suffrage in 1984, following a national referendum.


The current iteration of the Constitution of Liechtenstein was adopted in March 2003, amending the 1921 constitution. The 1921 constitution had established Liechtenstein as a constitutional monarchy headed by the reigning prince of the Princely House of Liechtenstein; a parliamentary system had been established, although the reigning Prince retained substantial political authority.[1][2][3]

In a national referendum in March 2003, nearly two-thirds of the electorate voted in support of Hans-Adam II's proposed constitutional reform. The proposals were criticised by many, including the Council of Europe, as it expanded the powers of the monarchy (extending monarch's power of veto law, increasing his executive authority, and allowing him to dismiss the government, or any minister, at will). The Prince threatened that if the constitution failed, he would, among other things, convert some royal property for commercial use and move to Austria.[4] The princely family and the Prince enjoy tremendous public support inside the nation, and the resolution passed with about 64% in favour.[5] A proposal to revoke the Prince's veto powers was rejected by 76% of voters in a 2012 referendum.[6]

Executive branch

Main office-holders
Office Name Party Since
Prince Hans-Adam II 13 November 1989
Prince-regent Alois 15 August 2004
Prime Minister Daniel Risch Patriotic Union 25 March 2021
Hans-Adam II, Prince of Liechtenstein

The monarch is hereditary. Following legislative elections, the head of government is appointed by the prince and proposed and voted on by the parliament. Thus the government is usually composed of the members of the majority party. It is, however, also customary that the leader of the largest minority party in the Diet is appointed the deputy head of government by the monarch. According to the constitution of Liechtenstein, the government is a collegiate body and consists of the head of government and four governmental councilors.

Amendment to the constitution or new law have to be adopted by Parliament, signed by both the Prince and the head of government, and published in the Principality's Law Gazette.

Prince Hans Adam II is the current head of state. His constitutional powers include the power to veto any legislation, to be used at his discretion, as well as the dissolution of the parliament (this may be subject to a referendum). He represents the state vis-à-vis foreign states. He signs international treaties either in person or delegates this function to a plenipotentiary. Some treaties under international law only become valid when they have been ratified by Parliament. On the basis of the names put forward by Parliament, the Prince nominates the government, district and high court judges, the judges of the Supreme Court, and the presidents and their deputies of the Constitutional Court and of the Administrative Court of Appeal.[7] The Prince's other authorities include exercising the right to mitigate and commute punishments that have been imposed with legal force and the abolition — i.e., the dismissal — of investigations that have been initiated. All judgments are issued in the name of the Prince.

In August 2004, Prince Hans-Adam handed over the day-to-day running of the country to his son, Crown Prince Alois, while still remaining the official head of state.[8]

Government Building in Vaduz

The Government of Liechtenstein is based on the principle of collegiality; namely, of colleagues collaborating with each other. The government consists of the head of government and four Councilors. The members of the government are proposed by the Parliament and are appointed by the Prince. Only men or women born in Liechtenstein, and who are eligible to be elected to Parliament, may be elected to the government committee. The two electoral areas of the country, the highlands and the lowlands, are entitled to at least two members of the government, and their respective deputies must come from the same area.[9]

According to the constitution, the cabinet shall consist of the Prime Minister and four other Ministers. The Prime Minister and the other Ministers shall be appointed by the Reigning Prince with the agreement of Parliament and on its proposal. On the proposal of Parliament, one of the Ministers shall be appointed by the Reigning Prince as the Deputy Prime Minister. If an individual Minister should lose the confidence of the Reigning Prince or of Parliament, the decision on the loss of the authority of the Minister to exercise his functions shall be taken by mutual agreement of the Reigning Prince and Parliament. Until a new Minister has been appointed, the official duties of the Minister shall be performed by the Minister's alternate.[citation needed]

Legislative branch

Parliament of Liechtenstein

The Prince's involvement in legislation consists in a right to take initiatives in the form of government bills and in the right to veto parliamentary proposals. The Prince has the power to enact princely decrees. Emergency princely decrees are possible when the security and welfare of the country is at stake. A countersignature by the head of government is, nevertheless, required. The Prince has the right to convene and adjourn parliament and, for serious reasons, to adjourn it for 3 months or to dissolve it.

The Landtag of Liechtenstein has 25 members, elected for a four-year term by proportional representation in two multi-seat constituencies. Until 1989, 15 members represented the population of the two constituencies (six for the lowland area and nine for the highland area). Since 1989 the lowland constituency has been entitled to have 10 members and the highland area 15. The Landtag's main task is to discuss and adopt resolutions on constitutional proposals and draft government bills. It has the additional duties of giving its assent to important international treaties; of electing members of the government, judges, and board members of the Principality's institutions; setting the annual budget and approving taxes and other public charges; and supervising the administration of the state. The Landtag observes its rights and duties in the course of sessions of the whole Landtag and through the parliamentary commissions that it elects. All members of the Landtag exercise their mandates in addition to their normal professions or occupations. The President of the Landtag and his deputy are both elected at the opening meeting for the current year. The president convenes the individual meetings during the session, leads them, and represent the Landtag externally.[10] During the parliamentary recess — normally from January to February/March — a "state committee" assumes Parliament's duties, and such a committee must also be elected in the case of any adjournment or dissolution of Parliament. A "state committee" consists of the president of Parliament and four other members.[11] The duties and working procedures of Parliament are laid down in the constitution and in Parliament's standing orders.

Moreover, the people of Liechtenstein have very strong direct democratic rights. If called for by at least 1,000 citizens, a referendum on any law can be initiated. Referendums can suspend parliament or change the constitution, but at least 1500 citizens must vote affirmative, so referendums to suspend parliament or change the constitution fail if they have low turnout even if the required percentage of total voters is met.

Political parties and elections

For other political parties, see List of political parties in Liechtenstein. An overview on elections and election results is included in Elections in Liechtenstein.

The political parties are in practice politically decisive and are the moving forces with regard to the composition of the government. In the 2001-05 legislature period of office, one Councillor and three deputies were women.

From 1938 to 1997 Liechtenstein had a coalition government. Until recently there were only two parties in Parliament: the Patriotic Union and the Progressive Citizens' Party. Liechtenstein's distinctive form of coalition government came to an end in April 1997, when the Patriotic Union won an absolute majority of seats. It took sole responsibility for the government during the 1997 to 2001 Parliament, with its members filling all the positions on the government committee. Between 2001 and 2009, the Progressive Citizen's Party formed the government, winning an absolute majority in the 2001 elections[12] and the most seats in the 2005 elections.[13] The Patriotic Union once again won an absolute majority of seats in the February 2009 elections.[14] Minority parties, as opposition parties, act as a check on the government in Parliament and on parliamentary commissions.

Liechtenstein parliamentary election, 2021

The VU and FBP both received 35.9% of the vote. The result was close between the top two parties with the VU initially reported to have received just 23 votes more than the FBP; in later results, the gap was marginally wider at 42 votes.[15][16][17] The FBP result was a slight improvement on their 2017 performance when they received 35.2% of the vote, while the VU increased their vote share from 33.7%. Both the VU and FBP won ten seats, an increase from eight and nine respectively.[15][18] The FBP and VU will be called upon to form a coalition to govern the country as they had before the election. With both parties tied on ten seats, it was not clear which party leader would be elected prime minister.[16] The Independents saw their share fall from 18.4% to just 4.2% and failed to win a seat, a reduction of five on their 2017 result. The Free List received 12.9% of the vote, a moderate increase from their 12.7% in 2017, and kept their representation at three seats which made them the third-largest party in the Landtag. The new party, Democrats for Liechtenstein received 11.1% of the vote and won two seats.[15][18]

A total of 15,901 ballots were cast, resulting in a 78.0% voter turnout. The vast majority (97.3%) of ballots were cast by post.[15] The results were described by local media as some of the most exciting in recent history.[19]

Patriotic Union72,36135.8910+2
Progressive Citizens' Party72,31935.8710+1
Free List25,94312.8730
Democrats for Liechtenstein22,45611.142New
The Independents8,5564.240–5
Valid votes15,29996.21
Invalid/blank votes6023.79
Total votes15,901100.00
Registered voters/turnout20,38478.01
Source: Landtagswahlen

Candidates elected

Those in bold elected to the Landstag. Those in italics elected deputy Landstag members.

Oberland FBP VU FL
  • Sebastian Schädler (3,697 votes)
  • Daniel Seger (3,605 votes)
  • Wendelin Lampert (3,552 votes)
  • Albert Frick (3,437 votes)
  • Sascha Quaderer (3,420 votes)
  • Bettina Petzold-Mähr (3,223 votes)
  • Nadine Vogelsang (3,155 votes)
  • Elke Kindle (3,066 votes)
  • Manfred Kaufmann (4,117 votes)
  • Thomas Vogt (3,574 votes)
  • Dagmar Bühler-Nigsch (3,554 votes)
  • Günter Vogt (3,307 votes)
  • Walter Frick (3,162 votes)
  • Norma Heidegger (3,112 votes)
  • Philip Schädler (3,101 votes)
  • Markus Gstöhl (3,051 votes)
  • Thomas Rehak (1,686 votes)
  • Pascal Ospelt (1,098 votes)
Unterland FBP VU FL
  • Franziska Hoop (2,091 votes)
  • Johannes Kaiser (2,068 votes)
  • Daniel Oehry (2,067 votes)
  • Karin Zech-Hoop (2,055 votes)
  • Thomas Hasler (2,049 votes)
  • Gunilla Marxer-Kranz (2,206 votes)
  • Peter Frick (1,959 votes)
  • Mario Wohlwend (1,914 votes)
  • Dietmar Lampert (1,871 votes)
  • Hubert Büchel (1,760 votes)
  • Patrick Risch (929 votes)
  • Sandra Fausch (920 votes)
  • Herbert Elkuch (1,694 votes)
  • Erich Hasler (1,054 votes)
Source: Landtagswahl 2021

Judicial branch

Main article: The courts of Liechtenstein

The main part of the Judicial Branch of Liechtenstein is made up of the Supreme Court (German: Oberster Gerichtshof), the Princely Court of Appeals (German: Fürstliches Obergericht, lit.'Princely Higher Court'), and the Princely Court of Justice (German: Fürstliches Landgericht, lit.'Princely Land Court').[20]

In the sphere of administrative law there is also the Administrative Court, and in the sphere of constitutional law there is the State Court.

Administrative divisions

Liechtenstein is divided in eleven communes (German: Gemeinden); Balzers, Eschen, Gamprin, Mauren, Planken, Ruggell, Schaan, Schellenberg, Triesen, Triesenberg, and Vaduz.


Municipalities of Liechtenstein are entitled under the constitution to secede from the union by majority vote.[21]

The autonomy of the Liechtenstein communities is in the upper range compared to the other Central European states along with Switzerland. Despite their small size, the municipalities have complex forms in terms of their territorial extent: in addition to a main part, seven municipalities also include one or more exclaves. Citizens' cooperatives, which exist in about half of Liechtenstein's municipalities, own forests and pastures for collective use, as well as parceled areas that are left for private use.[citation needed]

The municipalities of Liechtenstein are divided between the two electoral districts of Unterland and Oberland. This division is historical; the Unterland depends[clarification needed] on Schellenberg, the Oberland on the county of Vaduz.[22]

International organization participation

Liechtenstein is a member of the following organizations:


  1. ^ "Liechtenstein referendum rejects curbs on royal powers - BBC News".
  2. ^ Liechtenstein prince wins powers BBC News Online, 16 March 2003. Retrieved 29 December 2006.
  3. ^ "The Reform of the Constitution in 2003". Archived from the original on 2017-01-02.
  4. ^ "Liechtenstein Prince wins powers". BBC News. 16 March 2003. Retrieved 29 December 2006.
  5. ^ "IFES Election Guide – Election Profile for Liechtenstein – Results". Retrieved 1 July 2012.
  6. ^ "Liechtenstein votes to keep prince's veto". Reuters. 1 July 2012. Retrieved 1 July 2012.
  7. ^ Country profile: Liechtenstein - Leaders BBC News, 6 December 2006. Retrieved 29 December 2006.
  8. ^ "Liechtenstein profile - Leaders - BBC News".
  9. ^ Principality of Liechtenstein - Government accessed 11 January 2010
  10. ^ Principality of Liechtenstein website - Parliamenary elections accessed 11 January 2010
  11. ^ Principality of Liechtenstein website - Parliamentary Organization accessed 11 January 2010
  12. ^ "Landtagswahlen 2001 - Ergebnisse vom 01.01.2001" [Parliamentary elections 2001 - results as of January 1, 2001] (in German). Presse- und Informationsamts des Fürstentums Liechtenstein. 2001-01-01. Retrieved 2012-04-10.
  13. ^ "Landtagswahlen 2005 - Ergebnisse vom 11.03.2005" [Parliamentary elections 2005 - results as of March 11, 2005] (in German). Presse- und Informationsamts des Fürstentums Liechtenstein. 2005-03-11. Retrieved 2012-04-10.
  14. ^ "Landtagswahlen 2009 - Ergebnisse vom 08.02.2009" [Parliamentary elections 2009 - results as of February 8, 2009] (in German). Presse- und Informationsamts des Fürstentums Liechtenstein. 2009-08-02. Retrieved 2012-04-10.
  15. ^ a b c d "Landtagswahlen 2021 – Ergebnisse". Principality of Liechtenstein. Retrieved 9 February 2021.
  16. ^ a b "Liechtenstein election: Just 23 ballots separate two biggest parties". Euronews. 8 February 2021. Retrieved 9 February 2021.
  17. ^ "Archived copy of results page at 16:46 on 7 February 2021". Internet Archive. 7 February 2021. Archived from the original on 2021-02-07. Retrieved 13 February 2021.
  18. ^ a b "Landtagswahlen 2017 – Ergebnisse". www.landtagswahlen.liPrincipality of Liechtenstein.
  19. ^ Daragahi, Borzou (8 February 2021). "Liechtenstein set to become latest country to appoint a woman leader". The Independent. Archived from the original on 2021-02-08. Retrieved 9 February 2021.
  20. ^ "Liechtenstein Court System".
  21. ^ "Constitution of Liechtenstein" (PDF). 1 February 2009. Archived from the original (PDF) on 27 December 2013. Chapter I, Article 4
  22. ^ "Oberland – Historisches Lexikon". (in German). Retrieved 2023-01-04.