San Marino | Freedom House

Freedom in the World

San Marino

San Marino

Freedom in the World 2013

2013 Scores



Freedom Rating
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Civil Liberties
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Political Rights
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The Sammarinese Christian Democratic Party captured the most seats in the November 2012 parliamentary elections and formed a three-party ruling coalition, the San Marino Common Good. The country took steps to be removed from the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development’s black list of tax havens. Meanwhile, several arrests were made during the year of suspected organized crime figures.

Founded in the year 301, according to tradition, San Marino is considered the world’s oldest republic and is one of the world’s smallest states. The papacy recognized San Marino’s independence in 1631, as did the Congress of Vienna in 1815. In 1862, Italy and San Marino signed a treaty of friendship and economic cooperation. Despite its dependence on Italy, from which it currently receives budget subsidies, San Marino maintains its own political institutions. Tourism and banking dominate the country’s economy.

In early parliamentary elections in 2008, the center-right Pact for San Marino coalition captured 35 of the 60 seats in the legislature, with 22 of those seats going to the Sammarinese Christian Democratic Party (PDCS).

In March 2011, the government canceled a referendum on joining the European Union (EU), despite popular support for accession. In June, the government chose to push for stronger adherence to EU standards without becoming a full-fledged EU member or giving the people the opportunity to vote in a referendum.

After the resignations of two members of parliament, Augusto Casali (Nuovo Partito Socialista) and Romeo Morri (Moderati Sammarinesi) on July 16, 2012, the leading coalition no longer had a parliamentary majority. The legislature was dissolved in August, forcing the country to hold early elections on November 11. The PDCS captured 21 seats and formed a three-party coalition—the San Marino Common Good—with the Party of Social Democrats, which won 10 seats, and the Popular Alliance, which took 4 seats.

In June 2012, San Marino signed a protocol to exchange tax information with Italy, a step toward being removed from the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development in Europe’s black list of tax havens. The agreement would help San Marino crack down on Italian tax evaders.

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. Executive power rests with the 10-member Congress of State (cabinet), which is headed by two captains regent. As the joint heads of state, the captains regent are elected every six months by the Great and General Council from among its own members. Although there is no official prime minister, the secretary of state for foreign and political affairs is regarded as the head of government; Antonella Mularoni was elected to the post in December 2008. Under changes made to the electoral law in 2008, the winning coalition must capture a majority of 50 percent plus 1 and at least 30 of the 60 parliamentary seats.

There is little government corruption in the country, though financial corruption has prompted the government to explore laws that provide greater financial transparency. In August 2010, San Marino became the 48th state to join the Council of Europe’s Group of States against Corruption. In 2012, among those arrested for suspected criminal activity under a new anti-mafia commission established in 2011 were Livio Bacciocchi of the financial institution Fincapital, who was accused of money laundering. Roberto Zavoli, Bacciocchi’s collaborator, was also arrested, and the bank’s president, Oriano Zonzini, was placed under house arrest but released in June 2012. In January 2012, Marco Bianchini, the former head of the financial firm Karnak, was accused of extortion and corruption related to the Camorra, a Neapolitan mafia, in a scandal known as Criminal Minds; he was arrested after transferring €5 million ($6.5 million) into a Maltese bank. No one had been prosecuted by year’s end. The anti-mafia commission is expected to release a comprehensive report detailing the state of organized crime in San Marino in April 2013.

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

Religious discrimination is prohibited by law. Roman Catholicism is the dominant, but not the state, religion. Academic freedom is respected.

Freedom of assembly is respected, and civic organizations are active. Workers are free to strike, organize trade unions, and bargain collectively, unless they 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 the Council of Twelve, a group of judges chosen for six-year terms from among the members of the Great and General Council. Civilian authorities maintain effective control over the police and security forces, and the country’s prison system generally meets international standards.

The European Commission against Racism and Intolerance has raised some concerns in the past about the status of foreigners in the country. 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 such residence requirements not exceed 10 years.

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. Abortion is permitted only to save the life of the mother, though abortion laws in neighboring Italy are more liberal, and some women living in San Marino seek abortions there. Under a 2008 electoral law, no more than two-thirds of candidates from each party can be of the same gender. Ten women were elected to the Great and General Council in 2012, and two to the 10-member Congress of State in 2008.