Capital: San Marino
Population: 31,000

Political Rights Score: 1 *
Civil Liberties Score: 1 *
Status: Free


In 2010, San Marino continued to feel the reverberations of a 2009 banking scandal, including heightened economic uncertainty and closer government attention to money laundering systems operating within the country. In August, San Marino became the 48th member of the Council of Europe's Group of States against Corruption (GRECO).

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. 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. 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 June 2008, the left-wing governing coalition – consisting of the Party of Socialists and Democrats (PSD), the Popular Alliance of Democrats (AP), the United Left (SU), and the new Democrats of the Center party (DdC) – collapsed when the AP withdrew its delegates. The move forced the Grand and General Council, San Marino's parliament, to call early elections for November, in which the centre-right Pact for San Marino coalition – composed of the San Marino Christian Democratic Party (PDCS), the AP, the Freedom List, and the Sammarinese Union of Moderates – won 54 percent of the vote and 35 parliamentary seats.

In May 2009, five top executives from San Marino's largest bank, Cassa di Risparmio della Repubblica di San Marino, were arrested on charges of money laundering but were released six months later. Criminal investigations into the possible involvement of other actors in the scandal continued throughout 2010. After Italy placed the bank's consumer finance group, Delta, under bankruptcy proceedings in 2009, several of its branches were sold to the Milan-based banking group, Intesa, in September 2010. The deal excluded Cassa di Risparmio's toxic assets and bad loans and required that the bank assume its own losses. In January 2010, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) released a report criticizing San Marino's ability to combat money laundering. The scandal has led to an increase in economic uncertainty in San Marino, but has also focused government attention on money laundering operations within the country in an attempt to shed its image as a corrupt financial center.

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-regents. As the joint heads of state, the captains-regents 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. The reforms also made it easier for Sammarinese living abroad to vote in elections.

The PDCS, the 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 government corruption in the country, though financial corruption stirred political and economic concerns throughout 2010. In August, San Marino became the 48th state to join the Council of Europe's Group of States against Corruption (GRECO). An international evaluation of San Marino's ability to fight corruption released in October 2010 revealed that the Sammarinese government has adopted a sufficient number of new regulations to combat corruption but does not have the resources to adequately enforce its laws.

Freedoms of speech and the press are guaranteed. There are three daily private newspapers and one weekly paper, a state-run broadcast system for radio and television called 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.

Residents are free to assemble, demonstrate, and conduct open public discussions. 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 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. 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. Under the new 2008 electoral law, no more than two-thirds of candidates from each party can be of the same gender. Nine women were elected to the Great and General Council in 2008 and two to the ten-member Congress of State.

* Countries are ranked on a scale of 1-7, with 1 representing the highest level of freedom and 7 representing the lowest level of freedom.

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