San Marino - Political background

San Marino is a republic, dating its sovereignty back to its founding in the fourth century by a Christian stone cutter named Marinas who fled persecution in Dalmatia. With the establishment of a monastery in the ninth century, the community grew and acquired statutes of government by the twelfth century. The present government structure is based on statutes that date to 1660. Papal recognition in 1631 officially gave San Marino independent status.

The Grand and General Council (Consiglio Grande e Generale) of 60 members exercises legislative power and is elected every five years by direct vote of all citizens over the age of 18. Every six months two members of the council are nominated to act as captains-regent; they preside over meetings of the Grand and General Council, as well as the Congress of State (the 12-member cabinet) but their functions are largely honorary. The office of secretary of state for foreign affairs has come to represent many of the functions of a prime minister. The secretary of state for foreign affairs has responsibilities that supersede the authority of the captains-regent, but the captains-regent are personally answerable for the mandate given them by the Grand and General Council. The captains-regent must also respond to citizen proposals and requests presented to them (traditionally on the Sunday after 1 April and 1 October in any given year). Full executive power rests in and is shared by members of the Congress of State (cabinet) nominated by the Grand and General Council: the three secretaries (foreign affairs, internal affairs, and finance), the two captains-regent, and the seven ministers heading various administrative departments.

Although San Marino has no written constitution per se, a 1926 electoral law serves some of the functions of a constitution. Women voted for the first time in the 1964 elections.

Although legally sovereign, San Marino's government and political parties are influenced by Italian politics and political parties that are counterparts to those in San Marino. The largest party in the Grand and General Council is the San Marino Christian Democratic Party (Partito Democratico Cristiano Sammarinese PDCS). Other influential parties include the San Marino Socialist Party (Partito Socialista Sanmarinese PSS); the San Marino Progressive Democratic Party (Partito Progressista Democratico Sammarinese—PPDS, formerly the Communist Party—PCS); the San Marino Popular Alliance of Democrats (Alleanza Popolare dei Democratici Sammarinese APDS); Socialists for Reform (Socialisti per le Riforme SR); Ideas in Movement (IM); and Communist Refoundation (Refondazione Comunista RC). The San Marino government will pay for part of the expenses for Sanmarinese living abroad to fly home to vote and 80% of the population turns out on election day.

Also read article about San Marino from Wikipedia

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