VADUZ Voters in Liechtenstein rejected a proposal to abolish the ruling prince's right to veto the results of popular referendums on Sunday, underscoring how citizens see the ruling family as integral to the principality's wealth and stability.
The referendum was proposed by pro-democracy campaigners after Crown Prince Alois von und zu Liechtenstein said last year he would block the legalization of abortion if citizens approved it in a referendum. In the end, citizens rejected it anyway.
Official figures showed 76.1 percent of voters rejected the proposal on Sunday.
The crown prince and his father Prince Hans Adam were greeted with loud cheers and applause when they appeared in Vaduz to thank voters for their support.
"I want to thank you dearly that with such a convincing 'yes' you have agreed to continue the 300-year-old partnership between the people and the royal house, which been so successful up to now," Prince Hans Adam said.
Liechtenstein is the only monarchy in Europe to still have any real executive power and the crown prince said in March that the monarchy would quit the country if the veto were introduced, undermining stability and affluence for all.
The Liechtenstein royal family is credited with transforming the country from a rural backwater into a wealthy banking centre, making the country's 36,000 inhabitants some of the world's wealthiest, with national output per head expected to top $141,000 in 2012.
"It was a dreadful proposal. If we didn't have the prince, our country would be a lot worse off," said Christina Buechel, 60, who voted no in the referendum.
Crown Prince Alois' family has ruled the 160 square km (62 square miles) principality since 1699 and he has been the effective ruler since his father handed over power after a constitutional crisis in 2003.
(Reporting by Caroline Copley; Editing by Alison Williams)