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San Marino: PACE encourages the authorities to strengthen the effectiveness of direct democracy

Andrej Hunko

PACE today lauded San Marino for its “wide and impressive range of institutional consultation mechanisms and instruments of direct democracy” while expressing concern about the numerous reports that indicate that these consultation mechanisms are “not always used as foreseen by law, or that its results are ignored or not implemented”. Given the importance of these instruments for the functioning of democratic institutions in San Marino, the Assembly urged the authorities to continue “to ensure, and where necessary strengthen, the effectiveness of the various consultation mechanisms and instruments of direct democracy”.

Unanimously adopting a resolution, based on ‘periodic review’ report on the country prepared by Andrej Hunko (Germany, UEL) and Joseph O’Reilly (Ireland, EPP/CD), the Assembly expressed concern about the unbalance in the equality of arms between the legislative and executive branches of power in San Marino “which has resulted in an executive that is too powerful and that in practice rules by decree, instead of waiting for the Great and General Council to guide policies and take legislative action”.

While the recommended strengthening of the working conditions for members of the Great and General Council would go some way in alleviating this problem, addressing this issue on a more systemic level should be considered in the context of future institutional reforms.

The Assembly welcomed and recognised the democratic benefits of the close proximity and “strong human links between executive, elected representatives and the San Marino citizens”. At the same time, it expressed concern about the impact of this proximity on the functioning of the system of checks and balances as well as the vulnerability of the democratic institutions and their office holders to corruption and potential conflicts of interest.

It therefore welcomed the reforms that have been implemented with a view to addressing these vulnerabilities in respect of the legislative and judicial branches of power, in line with the recommendations of GRECO.