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Liechtenstein, History

Mario Frick, Schellenberg, European Free Trade Association, parliamentary elections, EFTA

The modern history of Liechtenstein dates from 1719, when the country formally acquired its present name and ruling family with the consolidation of the counties of Vaduz and Schellenberg under the house of Liechtenstein. During the 18th and 19th centuries, it was allied with the Habsburg monarchy of Austria. When that monarchy was abolished after World War I (1914-1918), Liechtenstein formed its present connection with Switzerland.

Prince Franz Joseph II, who became sovereign in 1938, yielded executive authority in 1984 to his son and heir, Crown Prince Hans Adam II, who succeeded his father in 1989. Also in 1984, a referendum granted women the right to vote in national elections. Liechtenstein joined the United Nations in 1990 and the European Free Trade Association (EFTA) as a full member in September 1991. In December 1992 voters approved Liechtenstein’s membership in the European Economic Area (EEA). In February 1993 Markus Buechel of the Progressive Citizens’ Party was elected to the post of prime minister. Buechel inherited a coalition government—made up of his own party and the Fatherland Union—that had ruled the country since 1938. In September, the parliament passed a no-confidence vote against Buechel, saying that he refused to work with other members of the government. However, instead of dismissing Buechel, Prince Hans Adam dissolved parliament and called new elections, saying that the voters should decide who ran the government. In elections held the following month, Mario Frick of the Fatherland Union became prime minister.

Frick was returned to office in April 1997. Shortly after the elections the Progressive Citizens’ Party announced that it was leaving the coalition with Frick’s Fatherland Union to become an official opposition party. This was the first time in almost 60 years that the two parties had not governed in an official coalition with one another.

The Progressive Citizens’ Party ousted the Fatherland Union in parliamentary elections in 2001; the party’s leader, Otmar Hasler, succeeded Frick as prime minister.

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