San Marino | Freedom House

Freedom in the World

San Marino

San Marino

Freedom in the World 2007

2007 Scores



Freedom Rating
(1 = best, 7 = worst)


Civil Liberties
(1 = best, 7 = worst)


Political Rights
(1 = best, 7 = worst)


Following June 2006 elections, the Party of Socialists and Democrats (PSD) formed a center-left coalition government with the Popular Alliance of Democrats (AP) and the United Left (SU). It replaced a coalition led by the San Marino Christian Democratic Party (PDCS).

Founded in the year 301, according to tradition, San Marino is considered the world’s oldest existing republic and is one of the world’s smallest states. Although the Sammarinesi are ethnically and culturally Italian, they have succeeded in maintaining their independence against great odds since the fourth century. The papacy recognized San Marino’s independence in 1631, as did the Congress of Vienna after the Napoleonic Wars in 1815. In 1862, Italy and San Marino signed a treaty of friendship and cooperation that began a long period of closeness between the two countries. Despite its dependence on Italy, from which it currently receives budget subsidies, San Marino maintains its own political institutions. It became a member of the Council of Europe in 1988 and a member of the United Nations in 1992. Tourism and banking dominate the country’s economy.

In February 2005, the Council of Europe’s Committee for the Prevention of Torture carried out its third visit to the country. The delegation followed up concerns that were raised in previous visits about detentions at San Marino’s prison and safeguards offered to people detained by law enforcement agencies.

The European Union (EU) Savings Taxation Directive, which provided a way to tax revenue from savings accounts held by EU citizens in a member state other than their own country of residence or in certain non-EU countries, came into effect on July 1, 2005. San Marino, which was not an EU member, had agreed to participate in the directive, which was intended to prevent harmful tax practices.

Elections for the Grand and General Council were held in June 2006. The San Marino Christian Democratic Party (PDCS) won 32.9 percent, the Party of Socialists and Democrats (PSD) took 31.9 percent, the Popular Alliance of Democrats (AP) won 11.9 percent, the United Left (SU) received 8.7 percent, and the New Socialist Party (NPS) took 5.4 percent. In terms of seats, the PDCS won 21, the PSD 20, the AP 7, the SU 5, the NPS 3, and other parties 4. The PSD formed a coalition government with the AP and SU, replacing a government led by the PDCS.

Antonio Carattoni and Roberto Giorgetti were elected as captains-regent, the joint heads of state, for the six-month term from October 2006 to March 2007.

Political Rights and Civil Liberties: 

San Marino is an electoral democracy. The 60 members of the Great and General Council, the unicameral legislature, are elected every five years by proportional representation. The executive power of the country rests with the 10-member Congress of State (cabinet), which is headed by two captains-regent selected every spring and fall by the Great and General Council from among its own members to serve as joint heads of state for a six-month period. Although there is no official prime minister, the secretary of state for foreign and political affairs is regarded as the head of government. Fiorenzo Stolfi was elected to the post in July 2006.

The PDCS, PSD, and the AP are the three dominant political groups in the country. There are several smaller groups, however, and majority governments are usually formed by a coalition of parties.

There are few problems with corruption in the country. San Marino was not ranked in Transparency International’s 2006 Corruption Perceptions Index.

Freedom of speech and the press are guaranteed in San Marino. There are daily newspapers, a state-run broadcast system for radio and television called RTV, and a private FM station, Radio Titiano. The Sammarinesi have access to all Italian print media and certain Italian broadcast stations. Access to the internet is unrestricted.

The country prohibits religious discrimination by law. Roman Catholicism is the dominant, but not the state, religion. Taxpayers can request to donate 0.3 percent of their income through their taxes to the Catholic Church or other groups such as the Waldesian Church or the Jehovah’s Witnesses. Academic freedom is respected in the country.

Residents are free to assemble, demonstrate, and conduct open public discussions. Civic organizations are active. Workers are free to organize into trade unions and bargain collectively with employers. They are also free to strike, if they do not work in military occupations. Approximately half of the country’s workforce is unionized.

The judiciary is independent. Lower court judges are required to be noncitizens—generally Italians—to assure impartiality. The final court of review is San Marino’s Council of Twelve, a group of judges chosen for six-year terms from among the members of the Grand and General Council. The country’s prison system generally meets international standards, and civilian authorities maintain effective control over the police and security forces.

The population is generally treated equally under the law, although the European Commission against Racism and Intolerance has raised some concerns in the past about the status of foreigners in the country. Most of the foreign-born residents are Italians; only about 2 percent—mostly women from Central and Eastern Europe who work as private nurses for the elderly and ill—come from outside the EU. San Marino has no formal asylum policy, and a foreigner must live in the country for 30 years to be eligible for citizenship. The European Convention on Nationality recommends that the period of residence before a foreigner can apply for citizenship should not exceed 10 years. In 2001, San Marino ratified the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination.

Women are given legal protections from violence and spousal abuse, and gender equality exists in the workplace and elsewhere. There are, however, slight differences in the way men and women can transmit citizenship to their children. The country has restrictive laws regarding abortion, which is permitted only to save the life of the mother.