Politics of Andorra

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The politics of Andorra take place in a framework of a parliamentary constitutional diarchy, and a multi-party system. Executive power is exercised by the government, with the Head of Government of Andorra as chief executive. Legislative power is vested in both the government and parliament. The judiciary is independent of the executive and the legislature.

Before 1993, Andorra's political system had no clear division of powers into executive, legislative, and judicial branches. A constitution ratified and approved in 1993 establishes Andorra as a sovereign parliamentary democracy that retains the president of France and Bishop of Urgell as co-princes and heads of state. However, the head of government retains executive power. The two co-princes serve coequally with limited powers that do not include an individual veto over government acts (however, a bill can in effect be "vetoed" if both do not sign the legislation). They are each represented in Andorra by a delegate.

The fundamental impetus for this political transformation was a recommendation by the Council of Europe in 1990 that, if Andorra wished to attain full integration in the European Union (EU), it should adopt a modern constitution that guarantees the rights of those living and working there. A Tripartite Commission – made up of representatives of the co-princes, the General Council, and the Executive Council – was formed in 1990 and finalized the draft constitution in April 1991, making the new constitution a fact.

One remaining, though symbolic, legacy of Andorra's special relationship with France and Spain, is that the Principality has no postal service of its own – French and Spanish postal services operate side by side, although each of them issues separate stamps for Andorra, instead of using their own.

Government[edit]

Executive branch[edit]

Under the 1993 constitution, the co-princes continue as heads of state, but the head of government retains executive power. The two co-princes serve coequally with limited powers that do not include veto over government acts. Both are represented in Andorra by a delegate, although since 1993, both France and Spain have their own embassies. As co-princes of Andorra, the President of France and the Bishop of Urgell maintain supreme authority in approval of all international treaties with France and Spain, as well as all those that deal with internal security, defense, Andorran territory, diplomatic representation, and judicial or penal cooperation. Although the institution of the co-princes is viewed by some as an anachronism, the majority sees them as both a link with Andorra's traditions and a way to balance the power of Andorra's two much larger neighbors.

The way the two princes are chosen makes Andorra one of the most politically distinct nations on earth. One co-prince is the man or woman who is currently serving as President of France, currently Francois Hollande (it has historically been any head of state of France, including kings and emperors of the French). The other is the current Roman Catholic bishop of the Catalan city of La Seu d'Urgell, currently Joan Enric Vives i Sicilia. As neither prince lives in Andorra, their role is almost entirely ceremonial.

In 1981, the Executive Council, consisting of the Cap de Govern (head of government) and seven ministers, was established. Every four years, after the general elections, the General Council elects the head of government, who, in turn, chooses the other members of the Executive Council.

Main office holders
Office Name Party Since
Co-Princes François Hollande Socialist Party 15 May 2012
Joan Enric Vives Sicilia 12 May 2003
Representatives Sylvie Hubac[1] Socialist Party 21 May 2012
Josep Maria Mauri[2] 20 July 2012
Prime Minister Antoni Martí Democrats for Andorra 12 May 2011

Legislative branch[edit]

Andorra's main legislative body is the 28-member General Council (Parliament). The sindic (president), the subsindic and the members of the Council are elected in the general elections to be held every four years. The Council meets throughout the year on certain dates set by tradition or as required.

At least one representative from each parish must be present for the General Council to meet. Historically, within the General Council, four deputies apiece from each of the seven individual parishes have provided representation. This system allowed parishes with as few as 350 voters the same number of representatives as larger parishes with up to 2,600 voters. To correct this imbalance, a provision in the new constitution modifies the structure and format for electing Council members. Under the new format, half of the representatives are chosen by the traditional system, and the other half selected from nationwide lists.

A sindic and a subsindic are chosen by the General Council to implement its decisions. They serve three-year terms and may be reappointed once. They receive an annual salary. Sindics have virtually no discretionary powers, and all policy decisions must be approved by the Council as a whole.

Judicial branch[edit]

The judicial system is independent. Courts apply the customary laws of Andorra, supplemented with Roman law and customary Catalan law. Civil cases are first heard by the Court of Batlles – a group of four judges, two chosen by each co-prince. Appeals are heard in the Court of Appeals. The highest body is the five-member Superior Court of Justice.

Political parties and elections[edit]

For other political parties see List of political parties in Andorra. An overview on elections and election results is included in Elections in Andorra.
e • d Summary of the 3 April 2011 Andorran General Council election results
Parties and alliances Votes % Seats
Democrats for Andorra (Demòcrates per Andorra)
8,553 55.15 20
Social Democratic Party (Partit Socialdemòcrata)
5,397 34.80 6
Andorra for Change (Andorra pel Canvi) 1,040 6.71
Greens of Andorra (Els Verds d'Andorra) 520 3.35
Lauredian Union (Unió Laurediana)* 2
Total (turnout 74.12%) 15,510 100.00 28
Invalid votes 164
Blank votes 523
Total votes 16,197
Registered voters 21,852
Numbers of votes and percentages are for the respective national list. Numbers of seats include seats won by the parish lists.
* parish lists only
Source: Government of Andorra.
More info: Andorran parliamentary election, 2011

Administrative divisions[edit]

Andorra is formed by seven parishes (parròquies, singular - parròquia); Andorra la Vella, Canillo, Encamp, La Massana, Escaldes-Engordany, Ordino, Sant Julia de Loria.

Security[edit]

The Government of Andorra maintains a small ceremonial Army, a well-equipped modernized Police Corps, a Fire Brigade, a Mountain Rescue Service, and the GIPA, which is a para-military unit trained in hostage and counter-terrorism roles.

Political conditions[edit]

Andorra's young democracy is in the process of redefining its political party system. Three out of the five parties that dominated the political scene in past years have dissolved. The Liberal Union or UL (current head of government Forn's party) is trying to reshape itself and change its name to that of the Liberal Party of Andorra (PLA), thus offering a political umbrella to small parties and groups that have not yet found their place. Another party by the name of the Social Democratic Party has been formed and is designed to attract parties previously aligned with socialist ideals. Given the number of parties and Andorra's relative size, no one party controls the General Council; therefore, legislative majorities arise through coalitions. Since the 1993 constitutional ratification, three coalition governments have formed. The current government unites the UL, the CNA (National Andorran Coalition), and another relatively small party with Marc Forné Molné, a Liberal Unionist, as Cap de Govern, or head of government.

The government has continued to address many long-awaited reforms. In addition to legalizing political parties and trade unions for the first time, freedom of religion and assembly also have been legally guaranteed. Most significant has been a redefinition of the qualifications for Andorran citizenship, a major issue in a country where only 13,000 of 65,000 are legal citizens. In 1995, a law to broaden citizenship was passed but citizenship remains hard to acquire, with only Andorran nationals being able to transmit citizenship automatically to their children. Lawful residents in Andorra who are nationals of France, Spain or Portugal may obtain citizenship after 10 years of residency; for other nationals, citizenship may be obtained after 20 years of residency. Children of residents may opt for Andorran citizenship after age 18 if they resided virtually all of their lives in Andorra. Mere birth on Andorran soil does not confer citizenship. Dual nationality is not permitted. Non-citizens are allowed to own only a 33% share of a company. Only after residing in the country for 20 years may they own 100% of a company. A proposed law to reduce the necessary years from 20 to 10 is being debated in Parliament.

By creating a modern legal framework for the country, the 1993 constitution has allowed Andorra to begin a shift from an economy based largely on duty-free shopping to one based on international banking and finance. Despite promising new changes, it is likely that Andorra will, at least for the short term, continue to confront a number of difficult issues arising from the large influx of foreign residents and the need to develop modern social and political institutions. In addition to questions of Andorran nationality and immigration policy, other priority issues include allowing freedom of association, dealing with housing scarcities and speculation in real state, developing the tourist industry, and renegotiating the relationship with the European Union.

International organization participation[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Decret del 21.05.2012 pel qual es nomena la Sra. Sylvie Hubac, Representant Personal del Copríncep Francès.". Butlletí Oficial del Principat d’Andorra (in Catalan). May 30, 2012. Archived from the original on August 1, 2012. Retrieved December 18, 2012. 
  2. ^ "Mn. Josep M. Mauri jura com a nou Representant Personal del Copríncep Episcopal" (in Catalan). 2012-07-20. Retrieved 2012-12-18. 

External links[edit]