The origins of the institution of the Captains Regent date back to 1200, when the existence of two “Consules” is demonstrated. In 1295, they were assigned the title of Captain and Defender and in 1317 they became Captain and Rector, hence the name of “Captain Regent”.
According to Article 3 of the “Declaration on the Citizens’ Rights and Fundamental Principles of San Marino Constitutional Order”, as also provided for in Article 1 of Constitutional Law no. 185/2005, the Office of Head of State shall be held jointly by two Captains Regent.
The Captains Regent are elected by an absolute majority of the votes cast by Parliamentarians in a secret ballot. In this case, the sitting is valid irrespective of the number of Parliamentarians present (Art.1 of Qualified Law no.186/2005). The couple obtaining the absolute majority of votes is elected.
The requirements to be elected Captain Regent are: to be no less than 25 years of age, not to have held this position in the preceding three years (the so-called “law of prohibition”) and to be a San Marino citizen by origin (that is to say citizenship acquired at birth).
The Captains Regent are elected for a six-month mandate: from 1 April to 1 October and from 1 October to 1 April.
Constitutional Law no. 185/2005 has further defined the constitutional functions and duties of the Captains Regent. First of all, they represent the State and are the supreme guarantors of the Republic’ constitutional order (Art.1); as such, they supervise the functioning of public powers and State institutions, as well the compliance of their activities with the principles enshrined in the “Declaration on the Citizens’ Rights and Fundamental Principles of San Marino Constitutional Order” and in the legislation in force (Art.2).
They may send messages to the institutional bodies with a view to guaranteeing respect, both formal and substantial, for the constitutional order and to maintain a correct balance among these bodies. They may also bring attribution conflicts with other constitutional bodies before the Guarantors’ Panel on the Constitutionality of Rules.
One of their tasks is to preside over the Great and General Council (Parliament), without voting right, which they represent in its entirety. They also convene and preside over the Bureau of the Great and General Council. In case of impossibility of one of the two Captains Regent, the Great and General Council and its Bureau may be convened and presided over by the other Captain Regent individually.
The Captains Regent also perform the following tasks:
- dissolve the Great and General Council in the cases provided for by law;
- convene electoral meetings for the renewal of the Great and General Council (political elections);
- coordinate the works of the Congress of State (Government);
- receive referenda proposals, popular legislative initiatives and the Istanze d’Arengo (specific popular petitions concerning matters/issues of public interest) and supervise on the correct application of the relevant procedures;
- fix the dates of referenda, as well as of elections of the Heads and members of Township Councils (administrative elections);
- accredit San Marino diplomatic representatives and receive the credential letters of foreign diplomatic representatives;
- convene and preside over the plenary and ordinary sessions of the Judicial Council;
- convene and preside over the Grand Mastership of the Equestrian Order of Saint Agatha;
- confer decorations in conformity with the provisions in force;
- preside over the Conference of the Heads of Township;
- carry out consultations and promote any useful initiative, including the conferral of the exploratory mandate for the Government formation (Art. 3 of Constitutional Law no.185/2005).
The Captains Regent also have the power to promulgate and order the publication of the laws approved by the Great and General Council.
In conformity with Article 5 of Constitutional Law no. 185/2005, the Captains Regent promulgate and order the publication of the decrees falling under their competence and provided for by law, which must be signed also by the Minister of Internal Affairs; they promulgate and order the publication of the decrees adopted by the Congress of State, in conformity with Article 2, paragraph 2, point b) of Constitutional Law no.183/2005 (Constitutional Law on the Congress of State), which must be signed also by the Minister of Internal Affairs. Moreover, they promulgate and order the publication of decrees ratifying international treaties and agreements, following the decision by the Great and General Council, as well as the decrees adopted by the Congress of State in conformity with Article 3 bis, fifth paragraph of the Declaration on the Citizens’ Rights, which must be signed also by the Minister of Internal Affairs. Finally, they promulgate and order the publication of the regulations provided for in Article 2, paragraph 2, point h) of Constitutional Law no. 183/2005.
Moreover, the citizens may submit complaints to the Captains Regent concerning the activities carried out by State Bodies and Public Administration Offices, to which the Captains Regent may initiate changes (Article 6 of Constitutional Law no.185/2005).
The Captains Regent cannot be prosecuted in any way during their mandate (Article 7 of Constitutional Law no.185/2005). At the end of their mandate, the Captains Regent are subject to the Regency Syndicate. This judgement, provided for by the Statues (section XIX of the first book), is now entrusted to the Guarantors’ Panel on the Constitutionality of Rules, following the revision of the Declaration on the Citizens’ Rights. The procedure provides that, within fifteen days after the conclusion of their mandate, every citizen registered in the electoral lists may submit claims against the Captains Regent “for what they have and have not done” during their mandate. The various stages of this procedure are described in Title VI of Qualified Law no.55/2003.