Posted by: rbbadger | December 27, 2008

A Grand Duke indeed

His Royal Highness, Henry I, by the Grace of God, Grand Duke of Luxembourg will soon be stripped of his veto powers if he hasn’t been already.  The Grand Duke, Head of State of Luxembourg did possess the power to veto laws, a privilege only used once before in the tiny Grand Duchy’s history.  The reason for this was because of a euthanasia law brought in Parliament.  In most European countries, the head of state (monarch or president) really has very little power.  Rather, they are supposed to be a symbol of national unity, far above the fray of what goes on in the halls of parliament.  No British monarch has vetoed legislation since the 18th century and by custom signs just about everything passed by Parliament put before him or her. 

Grand Duke Henri I felt that he could not in good conscience promulgate a law brought before him legalising euthanasia in Luxembourg, something that neighbouring Belgium and The Netherlands have done.  In response to this, Parliament is changing the constitution removing the possibility that the Grand Duke could excercise veto powers.  There hasn’t been a constitutional crisis of quite this magnitude since King Baudoin I of Belgium actually abdicated for a day rather than having to sign a law permitting abortion in his country.  The Grand Duke might have lost the right to veto laws, but he did stay true to his conscience.  



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