Monaco | Freedom House

Freedom in the World



Freedom in the World 2014

2014 Scores



Freedom Rating
(1 = best, 7 = worst)


Civil Liberties
(1 = best, 7 = worst)


Political Rights
(1 = best, 7 = worst)


The Monegasque general election took place on February 10, 2013. Horizon Monaco won by a landslide, securing 20 of the 24 national seats. Union Monegasque won 3 seats, and a new political association, Renaissance, won 1 seat. On February 21, Laurent Nouvion of Horizon Monaco was elected president of the Conseil National.

Political Rights and Civil Liberties: 


Political Rights: 31 / 40 [Key]

A. Electoral Process: 10 / 12

Monaco is a principality governed as a constitutional monarchy. Only the prince, who serves as head of state, may initiate legislation and change the government, though all legislation and the budget require the approval of the Conseil National. Prince Albert II took the throne after his father’s death in 2005. No constitutional provisions allow citizens to change the monarchical structure of government.

The 24 members of the unicameral Conseil National are elected for five-year terms; 16 are chosen through a majority electoral system and 8 by proportional representation. Horizon Monaco, the conservative former opposition, won the general election on February 10, 2013. The former ruling party, Union Monegasque, dropped from 21 seats to only 3, and Renaissance claimed the remaining seat. Laurent Nouvion of Horizon Monaco became president of the Conseil National, and Christophe Steiner became vice president. Voter turnout was approximately 75 percent.

The head of government, known as the minister of state, is traditionally appointed by the monarch from a candidate list of three French nationals submitted by the French government. The current minister of state, Michel Roger, has held the post since March 2010. The monarch also appoints five other ministers who comprise the cabinet.


B. Political Pluralism and Participation: 11 / 16

Monaco’s political system is constructed of political associations, led by Horizon Monaco and Union Monegasque. Renaissance, the new association that first competed in the general election in 2013, was established by Monaco’s largest hotel and casino company, SBM, along with trade union members.

Monaco’s law on campaign finance was adopted in 2012 in response to the recommendations of GRECO. Changes included a €400,000 ($526,000) limit on campaign expenditures.

The constitution differentiates between the rights of Monegasque nationals and those of noncitizens. Only about 8,000 of the principality’s residents are citizens, and they alone may elect the Conseil National. Citizens also benefit from free education, unemployment assistance, and the ability to hold elective office.


C. Functioning of Government: 10 / 12

Inadequate financial record keeping has traditionally made the country’s level of corruption difficult to measure. However, in 2009 the principality started providing foreign tax authorities with information on accounts held by noncitizens, and by October of that year, the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) removed Monaco from its list of uncooperative tax havens. Monaco took further steps toward improving financial transparency by signing tax information exchange agreements with 24 countries in 2009–10, including with a number of OECD countries. The agreements ensure that Monaco will surrender relevant tax documents requested by the signatories.

In March 2013, senior official Jean-Sébastien Fiorucci was charged in a polling scandal in which the privacy of Monegasque citizens was said to have been compromised in 2012 when a French-based polling company sought information about people’s opinions of candidates in the upcoming election. His trial was ongoing at the end of 2013.

In April 2013, Sherpa, a French nongovernmental organization against financial crimes, requested a preliminary inquiry into a BNP Paribas branch in Monaco that allegedly concealed a money laundering network between Monaco and several African countries, including Madagascar, Gabon, Senegal, and Burkina Faso.


Civil Liberties: 57 / 60 (+1)

D. Freedom of Expression and Belief: 16 / 16 (+1)

The constitution provides for freedoms of speech and the press, although criticism of the ruling family is prohibited. There are no daily newspapers but there is an English-language monthly, The Riviera Times, as well as foreign and online newspapers that cover Monaco. Monaco Info is the only local TV channel. In May 2013, a news crossover went into effect in which Riviera Times editors host a weekly local news segment on Radio Monaco. In an effort to improve internet and telecommunications, two major providers, Monaco Telecom and Level 3 Communications, came to an agreement in June 2013 to connect Monaco to a global internet backbone.

The constitution guarantees freedom of worship, though Roman Catholicism is the state religion. There are no laws against proselytizing by formally registered religious organizations, but authorities strongly discourage proselytizing in public. Academic freedom is not restricted. The country’s only institution of higher education, the private International University of Monaco, offers graduate and undergraduate programs in business administration, finance, and related fields. Monegasque students may attend French colleges and universities under various agreements between the two countries.


E. Associational and Organizational Rights: 12 / 12

The constitution provides for freedom of assembly, which is generally respected in practice. No restrictions are imposed on the formation of civic and human rights groups. Workers have the legal right to organize and bargain collectively, although they rarely do so. All workers except state employees have the right to strike, as did members of the Worker’s Trade Union of Monaco in 2012. At the end of December 2012, the Union des Syndicats de Monaco (USM) which once had a monopoly on trade unions in Monaco, split to form the Fédération des syndicats de salariés de Monaco (F2SM) because of difference of opinion.

On December 30th, employees of the Hotel de Paris began the longest strike in the country’s history over wages during the hotel’s renovations.


F. Rule of Law: 15 / 16

The legal rights to a fair public trial and an independent judiciary are generally respected. The justice system is based on the French legal code, and under the constitution, the prince delegates his judicial powers to the courts. The prince names five full members and two judicial assistants to the Supreme Court based on nominations by the Conseil National and other government bodies. Jail facilities generally meet international standards. After sentencing, criminal defendants are transferred to a French prison.


G. Personal Autonomy and Individual Rights: 14 / 16

Property rights are respected. Noncitizens holding a residence permit may purchase real estate and open businesses.

Women generally receive equal pay for equal work. There are five women in the Conseil National and two in the Crown Council. Abortion is legal only under special circumstances, including rape. Monaco does not recognize same-sex unions or marriages.


Scoring Key: X / Y (Z)

X = Score Received

Y = Best Possible Score

Z = Change from Previous Year

Full Methodology