Andorra has a parliamentary system of government and regularly holds free and fair elections. Political rights and civil liberties are generally respected. However, the country has strict naturalization criteria, and more than 50 percent of the population consists of noncitizens who do not have the right to vote. Among other outstanding concerns, abortion remains completely prohibited, and there is a notable wage gap between men and women. Andorra’s small Muslim and Jewish communities lack dedicated cemeteries, and the country has no recognized mosque.
- In July, the Andorran parliament approved a new family code; among other things, the new law provided for transgender people to be able to change their name and gender on legal documents and legalized same-sex marriage. However, in December, the Constitutional Court found the new law’s distinction between religious and civil marriages to be unconstitutional, meaning that parts of the law must be amended before it can be enacted.
- In April, the parliament approved legislative reforms that banned conspicuous religious symbols—such as yarmulkes, hijabs, and large crosses—in public schools, which rights advocates have called discriminatory. In October, the government approved a decree providing students who are affected by the new legislation with the option to take classes online; in one case, a Muslim girl began taking online classes so that she would not be made to remove her headscarf in the classroom.
|Was the current head of government or other chief national authority elected through free and fair elections?||4.004 4.004|
Andorra has a parliamentary system, with a prime minister elected by and accountable to the legislature. The legitimacy of the prime minister, usually the head of the party with the most seats, rests largely on the conduct of parliamentary elections, which have historically been competitive and credible. Xavier Espot Zamora, the new leader of the ruling Democrats for Andorra (DA) party, became prime minister in 2019 following that year’s elections.
Two “co-princes,” the French president and the Roman Catholic bishop of La Seu d’Urgell, Spain, serve jointly as Andorra’s ceremonial heads of state.
|Were the current national legislative representatives elected through free and fair elections?||4.004 4.004|
Members of the unicameral, 28-member Consell General are directly elected every four years through a mixed voting system. In the 2019 elections, the DA led with 11 seats, followed by the Social Democratic Party (PS) with 7, the Liberals of Andorra (LA) and the new conservative party Third Way (TV) with 4 each, and the new social-liberal party Committed Citizens (CC) with 2. The LA and CC joined the DA in a governing coalition. The polls were considered competitive, credible, and well-administered.
|Are the electoral laws and framework fair, and are they implemented impartially by the relevant election management bodies?||4.004 4.004|
The Electoral Law, which was last changed in 2014 to introduce regulations on campaign finance, provides a sound framework for free and fair elections. The Electoral Board supervises elections impartially. However, the law does not provide a formal role for international or citizen observers.
|Do the people have the right to organize in different political parties or other competitive political groupings of their choice, and is the system free of undue obstacles to the rise and fall of these competing parties or groupings?||4.004 4.004|
Political parties may form and operate freely, and there are a number of active parties in Andorra. Two new parties, TV and CC, made their debut in the 2019 elections.
|Is there a realistic opportunity for the opposition to increase its support or gain power through elections?||4.004 4.004|
The country has experienced multiple democratic transfers of power between rival parties, most recently in 2011, when the DA replaced a government led by the PS. Opposition parties are well represented in the Consell General and deprived the DA of its outright majority in the 2019 elections.
|Are the people’s political choices free from domination by forces that are external to the political sphere, or by political forces that employ extrapolitical means?||4.004 4.004|
Citizens and political figures are generally able to make political choices without undue interference from external forces.
|Do various segments of the population (including ethnic, racial, religious, gender, LGBT+, and other relevant groups) have full political rights and electoral opportunities?||3.003 4.004|
More than 50 percent of the population consists of noncitizens—mostly from nearby states—who do not have the right to vote in national elections or run for elected office. Under Andorra’s restrictive naturalization criteria, one must marry a resident Andorran or live in the country for more than 20 years to qualify for citizenship. Prospective citizens are also required to learn Catalan, the national language.
Women are active in politics, and after the 2019 elections they held 50 percent of the seats in the legislature. LGBT+ people are also free to participate in politics, and several parties advocate for their interests.
|Do the freely elected head of government and national legislative representatives determine the policies of the government?||3.003 4.004|
Elected representatives generally exercise their powers without improper influence from unelected or nonstate actors. However, in recent years the Vatican has threatened to ask the bishop of La Seu d’Urgell, Joan-Enric Vives i Sicília, to resign as co-prince if the Andorran government were to decriminalize abortion, a move that would likely cause a constitutional crisis. Similar threats were made in 2009 by the other co-prince, former French president Nicolas Sarkozy, who stated that he would resign if Andorra failed to reform its banking system. Neither co-prince is elected, directly or indirectly, by Andorran voters.
|Are safeguards against official corruption strong and effective?||4.004 4.004|
Government corruption is not viewed as a pressing issue in Andorra. Over the past several years, the government has made progress on financial-sector reforms designed to prevent abuses of the country’s banking system that could facilitate domestic or transnational corruption. Nonresidents must make certain disclosures about their bank accounts. In 2021, Parliament approved a transparency law that requires its members to report conflicts of interests and declare their assets. Nevertheless, the Council of Europe (CoE)’s Group of States against Corruption (GRECO) noted in a 2021 report a lack of progress with other anticorruption legislation.
|Does the government operate with openness and transparency?||4.004 4.004|
The government operates openly in practice. Among other resources, it publishes a regular bulletin, accessible online, that documents government activity, budgetary processes, public procurement, and asset disclosures. Since 2017, the Ministry of Territorial Planning has sponsored a participatory budget process, allowing members of the public to help set spending priorities. A 2021 transparency law requires authorities to provide information on the remuneration of civil servants and senior officials, as well as on public tenders and contracts.
|Are there free and independent media?||3.003 4.004|
There are several daily and weekly newspapers, and the country’s only domestic television station is operated by the public broadcaster Ràdio i Televisió d’Andorra. Residents have access to a variety of foreign media services. While press freedom is generally respected, criminal defamation laws remain on the books, and business, political, and religious interests have historically influenced media coverage; reporting on the activities of Andorra’s banks has been particularly difficult. The biggest media outlets are dependent on state advertising, which limits their opportunities to criticize the government.
|Are individuals free to practice and express their religious faith or nonbelief in public and private?||3.003 4.004|
Freedom of religion is generally upheld, but the Roman Catholic Church enjoys a privileged position that allows it to draw on some state support and bypass some bureaucratic processes that other faith groups must adhere to. In April 2022, the parliament amended the Education Law to ban conspicuous religious symbols—such as yarmulkes, hijabs, and large crosses—in public schools, which Amnesty International has called discriminatory. In October, the government approved a decree providing students who are affected by the new law with the option to take classes online. In one case, a Muslim girl began taking her classes online so that she would not be made to remove her headscarf in the classroom.
Despite years of negotiations between the Muslim community and the government, there is no recognized mosque for the country’s roughly 2,000 Muslims. The government has organized meetings with Jewish and Muslim communities to discuss the possible establishment of a special cemetery where those groups could conduct burials according to their customs and beliefs, but little progress has been made.
|Is there academic freedom, and is the educational system free from extensive political indoctrination?||4.004 4.004|
There are no restrictions on academic freedom, and the educational system is free from indoctrination.
|Are individuals free to express their personal views on political or other sensitive topics without fear of surveillance or retribution?||4.004 4.004|
There are no significant constraints on personal expression or freedom of private discussion. Authorities are not known to illegally monitor private online communications. However, in 2020, authorities drew up three slander charges against activist Vanessa Mendoza Cortés, who advocated for safe abortions, which Amnesty International and other international human rights groups called an attack on freedom of expression. Two of the charges were dropped in June 2021, but Mendoza Cortés, whose trial had not yet occurred by the end of 2022, could still face a fine of 30,000 euros (approximately $32,775).
|Is there freedom of assembly?||4.004 4.004|
Andorran law provides for freedom of assembly, and the government respects this right in practice. Demonstrations against government policies and in response to other social and political controversies take place on occasion. Authorities imposed temporary restrictions on large gatherings during 2020 to limit the spread of COVID-19.
|Is there freedom for nongovernmental organizations, particularly those that are engaged in human rights– and governance-related work?||4.004 4.004|
Various nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) function without restriction. Human rights groups are generally able to publish their findings and advocate for improvements without repercussions.
|Is there freedom for trade unions and similar professional or labor organizations?||3.003 4.004|
The right to unionize is protected by law and the constitution, and a new labor law that took effect in 2019 established regulations for collective bargaining and the right to strike. However, unions and the political opposition characterized the law as a setback, arguing in part that it placed unnecessary constraints on the right to strike and increased job insecurity. There are no laws in place to penalize antiunion discrimination.
In 2018, Andorra experienced its first major strike in 85 years when civil servants walked out to protest reforms to their contracts proposed by the government.
|Is there an independent judiciary?||4.004 4.004|
The judiciary is impartial and independent and is generally free from pressure from the government. Judges are appointed and supervised by the Higher Council of Justice; the two co-princes, the speaker of parliament, and the prime minister each select one of the council’s five members, and the fifth is elected by judges and magistrates.
|Does due process prevail in civil and criminal matters?||4.004 4.004|
Defendants enjoy the presumption of innocence and the right to a fair trial, and due process is generally upheld in the criminal justice system. The constitution prohibits arbitrary arrest and imprisonment, but police can detain suspects for up to 48 hours without charge.
|Is there protection from the illegitimate use of physical force and freedom from war and insurgencies?||4.004 4.004|
Andorra is free from war and insurgencies, violent crimes rates are low, and law enforcement agents are not known to use excessive force against civilians. Prison conditions are adequate.
|Do laws, policies, and practices guarantee equal treatment of various segments of the population?||3.003 4.004|
Though the 2019 law on equal treatment and nondiscrimination focuses primarily on combating gender discrimination, it includes comprehensive protections against discrimination based on race, ethnicity, age, disability, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, and other such categories. The legislation provides enforcement mechanisms, including fines, and also seeks to address a persistent gender pay gap, estimated to be as high as 40 percent in some sectors. A report published by a women’s rights organization in 2020 described ongoing problems including discrimination in the labor market and gender-based violence.
Andorra provides temporary protection and services to refugees and asylum seekers, but no law allows the government to grant asylum or refugee status.
|Do individuals enjoy freedom of movement, including the ability to change their place of residence, employment, or education?||4.004 4.004|
There are few restrictions on freedom of movement, and people are generally free to change their place of residence, employment, and education. The government imposed temporary restrictions on travel and internal movement during 2020 in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
|Are individuals able to exercise the right to own property and establish private businesses without undue interference from state or nonstate actors?||4.004 4.004|
The legal and regulatory framework is generally supportive of property rights and entrepreneurship, and there are few undue obstacles to private business activity in practice.
|Do individuals enjoy personal social freedoms, including choice of marriage partner and size of family, protection from domestic violence, and control over appearance?||3.003 4.004|
Personal social freedoms are generally respected, though there are some restrictions for same-sex couples. In July 2022, the government adopted a comprehensive new family code that legalized civil marriage for same-sex couples, set to enter into force in 2023. However, in December, Andorra’s Constitutional Court deemed the code’s distinction between canonical and civil marriage to be discrimination “on the basis of religious convictions” and thus unconstitutional, meaning that parts of the law must be amended before entering into force. Among other things, the new law also permits no-fault divorce and allows transgender people to change their name and gender on legal documents.
Domestic violence is prohibited by law and punishable with prison sentences; the government pursues domestic violence cases and provides resources for victims. Nevertheless, such violence remains a serious problem, and sometimes involves violence against children. The CoE’s 2020 report on Andorra’s implementation of the Istanbul Convention—a treaty on preventing and combating violence against women and domestic violence—listed a number of shortcomings in the collection of data and the support system for victims of sexual violence.
Andorra remains one of the few countries in Europe where abortion is completely prohibited, with penalties for both doctors and patients who undergo the procedure. Abortion is relatively accessible in neighboring France and Spain, though this option can be expensive for Andorrans.
|Do individuals enjoy equality of opportunity and freedom from economic exploitation?||4.004 4.004|
Andorran laws provide protections for most workers, including migrant workers. However, temporary workers must leave the country when their employment contract expires, exposing those with expired contracts to potential abuse by employers. The Labor Inspections Office is proactive in addressing violations of workers’ rights.
A 2019 report from the CoE’s Group of Experts on Action against Trafficking in Human Beings (GRETA) found that Andorra had made legislative and policy progress on combating trafficking but called on authorities to scrutinize high-risk sectors for possible victims and raise awareness of the threat among law enforcement bodies. Confirmed cases of trafficking have been rare in practice.
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