San Marino | Freedom House

Freedom in the World

San Marino

San Marino

Freedom in the World 2015

2015 Scores



Freedom Rating
(1 = best, 7 = worst)


Civil Liberties
(1 = best, 7 = worst)


Political Rights
(1 = best, 7 = worst)


In recent years, the government of San Marino has placed an emphasis on combating corruption and money laundering. In 2014, the government established several measures to help the country implement suggestions made by the Council of Europe’s Group of States against Corruption (GRECO). One high-profile case ended in September with the conviction of at least seven individuals on bribery and corruption charges connected to the construction industry.

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 2012. Under changes to the electoral law in 2008 that were 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 legislators 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 included the Agreement 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

Parties are free to form and operate in San Marino, and a number of them are active during elections. 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. In the 2012 elections, the PDCS and the Popular Alliance retained power in the legislature.


C. Functioning of Government: 12 / 12

There is little abuse of office by public officials in the country, though financial misconduct has prompted the government to increase financial transparency. In 2010, San Marino became the 48th state to join the GRECO.

In June 2014, the government launched four programs to combat money laundering: a hotline to report suspected corruption; a training program on corruption and money laundering for the police force; strengthened cooperation with Italy about financial data; and a training program for judges on issues concerning corruption.

In 2012, Livio Bacciocchi of the financial institution Fincapital was arrested amid accusations of money laundering and extortion. In 2013, Bacciocchi was sentenced to five years and six months’ imprisonment by a Bologna court. Also in 2013, a trial commenced against two commissioners at San Marino’s environmental hygiene agency who were accused of bribing construction contractors for personal gain. The case also implicated Bacciocchi and four others. In September 2014, seven defendants in the case were sentenced to prison terms ranging from two years to five-and-a-half years, in addition to facing fines.

In 2012, Marco Bianchini, the former head of the financial firm Karnak, was accused of extortion and corruption related to a Neapolitan mafia group; he was arrested after transferring €5 million ($6.5 million) into a Maltese bank. The case was ongoing at the end of 2014.

An investigation into a money laundering scheme at the Commercial Bank of San Marino led to the arrest of former captain regent Claudio Podeschi in June 2014.  Fiorenzo Stolfi, a former secretary of state for foreign affairs, was arrested in connection to the scheme in September, facing charges of conspiracy, money laundering, and voter trading.


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.

In February 2014, San Marino’s RTV sued the Italian daily Espresso for publishing misinformation about the station’s financial connection to the Italian company RAI and the Italian government.

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. There is one prison in San Marino, and the inmate population is small. A 2013 visit by the Council of Europe’s Committee for the Prevention of Torture to the facility prompted officials to consider improvements to the prison, which generally meets international standards.


G. Personal Autonomy and Individual Rights: 16 / 16

A 2013 report by the European Commission against Racism and Intolerance noted that several lingering concerns 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 length of 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 nationals in same-sex relationships with Sammarinese citizens. However, in September 2014, the government rejected a proposal by Sammarinese to fully recognize the rights of same-sex couples who were legally married abroad.

Women are given legal protections from violence and spousal abuse, and gender equality exists in the workplace and elsewhere. There are, however, 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, leading some women living in San Marino to seek services 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 sit in the State Congress.


Scoring Key: X / Y (Z)

X = Score Received

Y = Best Possible Score

Z = Change from Previous Year

Full Methodology