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Republic of San Marino - Politics

The original government structure was composed of a self-governed assembly known as the Arengo, which consisted of the heads of each family. In 1243, the positions of Captains Regent (Capitani Reggenti) were established to be the joint heads of state.

The Captains Regent are elected for a six-month mandate: from 1 April to 1 October and from 1 October to 1 April. Constitutional Law no. 185/2005 has further defined the constitutional functions and duties of the Captains Regent. First of all, they represent the State and are the supreme guarantors of the Republic’ constitutional order (Art.1); as such, they supervise the functioning of public powers and State institutions, as well the compliance of their activities with the principles enshrined in the “Declaration on the Citizens’ Rights and Fundamental Principles of San Marino Constitutional Order” and in the legislation in force (Art.2).

The Great and General Council, composed of 60 Parliamentarians, is the legislative body and is elected every 5 years by universal suffrage. It can be considered a parliamentary body of a constitutional, collegial, representative and unicameral nature. According to Article 3, paragraph 7 of the “Declaration on the Citizens’ Rights and Fundamental Principles of San Marino Constitutional Order”, the Great and General Council shall exercise the legislative power, direct and control the Government policy.

The Parliamentarians are elected by universal and direct suffrage for the duration of the legislature. Their mandate ends with the dissolution of the Council or in case of incompatibilities or disqualification. Besides the requirements to vote, the necessary requirements to be elected are: having attained 21 years of age on the election day, having resided in the Republic, not being a member of the Corps of the Gendarmerie, Civil Police, Uniformed Unit of the Fortress Guard, not being a diplomatic or consular Agent, not performing the functions of Magistrate or Procuratore del Fisco (a Prosecuting Magistrate).

According to the San Marino constitutional order, the Congress of State (Government) is vested with the executive power and - in conformity with Article 3 of the Declaration on the Citizens’ Rights - it is politically answerable to the Great and General Council. It is composed of a number of members which, as expressly provided for by law, cannot exceed ten. The members of the Congress of State are appointed by the Great and General Council by absolute majority from among its members at the beginning of the legislature, when the government programme is approved (that is to say every 5 years, or following a government crisis leading to the formation of a new government or in case of anticipated elections).

San Marino is a multi-party democratic republic. The two main parties are the Christian Democratic Party of San Marino (PDCS), and the Party of Socialists and Democrats (PSD), in addition to several other smaller parties. Due to the small size and low population of San Marino, it is difficult for any party to gain a pure majority, and most of the time the government is run by a coalition.

After the election held in 2012, the coalition San Marino Common Good formed the government having obtained 35 of the 60 seats. The coalition was composed of four parties, including the Sammarinese Christian Democratic Party (PDCS), the largest party in the preceding government, and the Party of Socialists and Democrats (PSD), which was previously the largest opposition party. There were five additional parties in the parliament, as well as several active nonparliamentary parties. Women’s political representation was low, with 13 of 60 Members of Parliament (MPs) and 1 of the 9 ministers were women.

In line with the Electoral Law, on 31 August 2016 early elections were called, following the Popular Alliance’s withdrawal from the government and the loss of the government’s majority. On 20 November 2016, citizens of San Marino voted to elect the 60 members of the Great and General Council, the unicameral parliament, for a five-year term. Members of the parliament are elected under a two-round proportional system from a nationwide constituency, with a single preferential vote. With a view to ensuring a stable government, the winning list is assigned a minimum of 35 seats through a so-called ‘stability reward’. For these elections, some 34,000 voters were registered to vote, including some 11,600 who permanently reside abroad. Voter registration is passive and voter lists are updated on a yearly basis.

Political parties have access to annual public subsidies, doubled in an election year, proportional to their parliamentary representation. There is no ceiling on private contributions to parties but a spending limit of some EUR 630,000 is in place. There is no requirement to disclose campaign income and expenditure prior to election day.

The reform process launched in the Republic of San Marino was intended to bring local self-government in line with the principles of the European Charter of Local Self-Government. But there are a number of areas where improvements are required: the allocation of a substantial share of public affairs to the responsibility of local authorities in line with the principle of subsidiarity, and the arrangement of the necessary legal, financial and administrative means to regulate and manage it.

Matteo Fiorini and Enrico Carattoni were elected for the semester October 2017 - April 2018. Stefano Palmieri and Matteo Ciacci were elected for the semester April 2018 - October 2018. The six-monthly change to the Supreme State Magistracy consolidates the democratic principles of state of independence and freedom, renewing its value and significance, especially in the testimony they offer to the Community of States, represented by the accredited Diplomatic and Consular Corps. The new Captains Regent Stefano Palmieri and Matteo Ciacci, elected on 14 March 2018, received full powers from their two predecessors, Matteo Fiorini and Enrico Carattoni, according to a ceremony that, as Romano Prodi said, "is a lesson on the origin of democracy in Europe". Yes, because the ceremony is repeated six months in six months since 1243.

The Captains Regent are Heads of State, they are Heads of Government as they preside over the Congress of State (the equivalent of the Council of Ministers) and are also Presidents of Parliament as they regulate the work of the Great and General Council, the legislative body of the State. In addition, the Captains Regent preside over some particular Commissions, may decide expenditure not foreseen in the budget and issue Decrees which will then be ratified by the Great and General Council. The Captains Regent have specific prerogatives: they take precedence over all other authorities; are entitled to the title of Excellence (no one else can boast of it); they can not be translated into judgment or be subject to executive acts of any kind.




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