San Marino | Freedom House

Freedom in the World

San Marino

San Marino

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)



In October, San Marino held a referendum to join the EU. Although a majority of voters were in favor, the referendum failed because the 22 percent of voters who turned out did not meet the required quorum of 32 percent.

In 2013, the trial began for seven individuals on corruption charges related to bribery at construction sites.

Political Rights and Civil Liberties: 


Political Rights: 40 / 40 [Key]

A. Electoral Process: 12 / 12

The 60 members of the Great and General Council, the unicameral legislature, are elected every five years. Executive power rests with the 10-member State Congress (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; Pasquale Valentini was elected to the post in December 2012. Under changes made to the electoral law in 2008 designed to increase accountability, government stability, and citizen participation, the winning coalition must hold 35 of the 60 parliamentary seats.

After the resignations of two members of parliament in July 2012, the captains regent dissolved the legislature in August, calling for early elections on November 11. The Sammarinese Christian Democratic Party (PDCS) captured 21 seats and formed a three-party coalition—San Marino Common Good—with the Party of Socialists and Democrats (PSD), which won 10 seats, and the Popular Alliance, which took 4 seats. Opposition groups include the Entente for the Country coalition with 12 seats, the Active Citizenship coalition with 9 seats, and the Civic Movement R.E.T.E. with 4 seats.


B. Political Pluralism and Participation: 16 / 16

The two main parties are the Christian-democratic PDCS and the social-democratic PSD. Due to the large number of small parties, the government is often run by changing coalitions of parties with similar platforms. In 2012, the PDCS and the Popular Alliance retained power, but the addition of the PSD marks a change of control.


C. Functioning of Government: 12 / 12

There is little government corruption in the country, though financial corruption has prompted the government to increase financial transparency. In 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 antimafia commission established in 2011 were Livio Bacciocchi of the financial institution Fincapital, who was accused of money laundering and extortion. In April 2013, Bacciocchi was sentenced to five years and six months’ imprisonment by a court in Bologna for the scandal, which came to be known as Vulcano2. Also in 2013, a trial began against Paolo Berardi and Davide Mularoni, two commissioners at San Marino’s environmental hygiene agency, for illegally bribing building contractors. The case also implicated Bacciocchi and four others.

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. The case was investigated throughout 2013 but no one had been convicted by year’s end.

In October, San Marino and Italy ratified a double-taxation agreement, a step toward Italy removing San Marino from its list of tax havens. The agreement will help San Marino crack down on Italian tax evaders.


Civil Liberties: 60 / 60

D. Freedom of Expression and Belief: 16 / 16

Freedoms of speech and the press are guaranteed. There are several private daily newspapers; a state-run broadcast system for radio and television, RTV; and a private FM station, Radio Titano. 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. There is no state religion, though Roman Catholicism is dominant. Academic freedom is respected.


E. Associational and Organizational Rights: 12 / 12

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.


F. Rule of Law: 16 / 16

The judiciary is independent. Lower court judges are required to be noncitizens—generally Italians—to ensure impartiality. The highest court 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. With a very small prison population, San Marino considered improvements to its one prison in 2013 after a visit by the Council of Europe’s Committee for the Prevention of Torture.


G. Personal Autonomy and Individual Rights: 16 / 16

A 2013 report by the European Commission against Racism and Intolerance noted that despite improvements since its 2008 report, several concerns remain about the status of foreigners in the country. San Marino has no formal asylum policy, although a decree adopted in 2010 introduced a “stay permit” in special cases of humanitarian need. A 2012 law loosened citizenship rules, including reducing the number of years’ residency required for citizenship from 30 to 25; the European Convention on Nationality, which San Marino has not signed, recommends that such residence requirements not exceed 10 years. In 2012 San Marino withdrew a 16th-century law in order to give visa rights to foreign partners in same-sex relationships with Sammarinese citizens.

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, but none were elected to the 10-member State Congress.


Scoring Key: X / Y (Z)

X = Score Received

Y = Best Possible Score

Z = Change from Previous Year

Full Methodology