freedom       2003-08-16 
Prince Hans-Adam II, who generated controversy in Europe with his push for more power in the tiny Alpine country, announced that he would step down in a year and transfer power to his 35-year-old son, Alois. He made the announcement at a party at his castle in Vaduz to which all of Liechtenstein's 33,000 residents had been invited to celebrate National Day. In March, the country voted in a constitutional referendum to increase the already considerable political control of the 58-year-old prince, a billionaire with his own bank. He had threatened to move to Austria if he did not get his way. The Council of Europe, the continent's top human rights watchdog, called the constitutional changes "a serious step backward." This week the prince, whose family has ruled the principality for 300 years, retorted by calling for Liechtenstein to leave the council.