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Liechtenstein is a rather unique case among the states of the world. It only came into being because of a decision by the Prince of Liechtenstein (whose name came from an estate his ancestor had acquired in the century), to acquire the immediate county of Vaduz( 1712) and lordship of Schellenburg (1699) and then request that the Emperor (in return for a large payment) convert them into a new immediate principality under the name of Liechtenstein. This the Emperor duly did in 1719, giving the "Reichsfurst" a seat in the Imperial Diet as a prince.
This statelet remained undisturbed by its new rulers who preferred to live on their Austrian, Bohemian and Moravian estates, until just before the Second World War when the then Furst, Franz Josef II, who had succeeded in 1938 and wanted to avoid being incorporated into Austria following the Anchsluss, decided to take up residence.
If it had not been for the princes desire to have the status of membership of the Diet on the bench of princes, the Liechtenstein population would certainly be part of the Austrian republic. Their voice would count for nothing as a tiny percentage of the population in what would no doubt have been one of the poorest parts of the republic, dependent on the revenues from tourism.
Instead of which, thanks to their princely rulers who gave their country its name, they are one of the wealthiest states per capita in Europe, with low taxes and an enivable standard of living compared with their immediate neighbours across the Austrian border. They would now be part of the Euro crisis, rather than using the Swiss franc.
Yet, in 1938, it is very probable that they would have become part of the Greater German Reich in 1938 had it not been for Franz Josef's skill in maintaining his country's neutrality. F-J had reinforced the Swiss customs union but Switzerland was sufficiently intimidated by its German neighbour to have been ready to sacrifice Liechtenstein if the Prince had not been such a sturdy ally and pressed his case so strongly. Furthermore it was F-J who was primarily responsible for developing the state financially - and this was achieved by financing the country's exchequer in the 1950s with money raised from the sale of some of the great works of art from the prince's private collection (including the Portrait of Giovanna de' Benci by Leonard da Vinci, sold to the National Gallery of Art in Washington for $5 million).
Incidentally he also gave asylum to the late Grand Duke Wladimir of Russia, who was eagerly sought by Stalin who certainly did not intend to treat him kindly.
One might argue, therefore, that the peculiar nature of Liechtenstein should not require that it necessarily be given simialar constitutional provisions as, for example, Norway. Perhaps Liechtenstein has benefited from the rather limited constitutional privileges of its princely rulers. Maybe to insist on supporting these claims to further diminish the prince's powers might not be in the best interests of the state, bearing in mind its history.
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