Great and General Council (or council of the sixties)

The Great and General Council, composed of 60 Parliamentarians, is the legislative body and is elected every 5 years by universal suffrage. It can be considered a parliamentary body of a constitutional, collegial, representative and unicameral nature. According to Article 3, paragraph 7 of the “Declaration on the Citizens’ Rights and Fundamental Principles of San Marino Constitutional Order”, the Great and General Council shall exercise the legislative power, direct and control the Government policy. The internal organisation and the functions of the Great and General Council are disciplined by the Parliamentary Rules of Procedure adopted with Law no. 21 of 11 March 1981, amended by Laws no. 128 of 31 October 1986, no. 47 of 19 May 1994, no. 42 of 21 March 1995 and no. 2 of 12 September 2006. The Electoral Law governs the election, the causes of ineligibility, as well as the incompatibilities of the Parliamentarians.
The Parliamentarians are elected by universal and direct suffrage for the duration of the legislature. Their mandate ends with the dissolution of the Council or in case of incompatibilities or disqualification. Besides the requirements to vote, the necessary requirements to be elected are: having attained 21 years of age on the election day, having resided in the Republic, not being a member of the Corps of the Gendarmerie, Civil Police, Uniformed Unit of the Fortress Guard, not being a diplomatic or consular Agent, not performing the functions of Magistrate or Procuratore del Fisco (a Prosecuting Magistrate). The Electoral Law also provides for incompatibilities of those elected: first-degree relatives in the direct line, spouses or cohabitants cannot be simultaneously members of the Great and General Council; the office of Head or member of Township Councils is incompatible with the mandate of member of the Great and General Council. Further incompatibilities have been introduced with Qualified Law no. 1/2007 with a view to avoiding that a member of the Great and General Council holds several elected offices.
This can happen when a person is simultaneously the legal representative or a member of the management bodies of social, economic and financial organisations or associations. The mandate of member of the Great and General Council has become incompatible also with the following offices: legal representative or elected offices in the management bodies of Trade Unions and in the Executive Board of the CONS (San Marino National Olympic Committee); President of sports federations; President or Secretary General of Professional Associations; elected offices in the management or supervisory bodies of the Central Bank, of Public Bodies and of State Corporations; President of banking foundations; management or legal representative offices within the boards of directors of banking and financial institutions.
According to Article 3, paragraph 7 of the Declaration on the Citizens’ Rights, the Great and General Council shall exercise the legislative power, direct and control the Government policy.
The legislative power means, in a few words, the adoption of rules, which are binding on the entire community.
The direction of the Government policy mainly consists in determining the objectives of the legislative and administrative activities, with particular reference to the following: the approval of the Government programme and the appointment of the members of the Congress of State; the laws approving the State Budget and Balance Sheet; the laws ratifying international treaties; the provisions concerning the appointment of the State’s highest offices.
Decisions are considered an instrument to direct and control the Government policy since the Government or any other competent body politically undertakes to implement the measures approved through the Decisions, taking into account the financial resources of the State. Also the approval of the Istanze d’Arengo (specific popular petitions concerning matters/issues of public interest) can be considered a way to direct the Government policy since, in this case, the Congress of State undertakes to translate the will expressed by the Great and General Council in this regard into concrete measures. The Istanze d’Arengo are submitted by San Marino citizens of age to the Captains Regent, at noon of the first Sunday following the investiture of the Captains Regent, in the Hall of the Great and General Council. By submitting the Istanze d’Arengo, San Marino citizens exercise their right of popular petition.
These petitions must concern issues of public interest, be drawn up in a clear way and be signed by the petitioners in a legible manner and with an indication of their domicile. By 30 April and 30 October of each semester, the Captains Regent, having heard the opinion of the Bureau of the Great and General Council, decide whether the Istanze d’Arengo are compliant with the requirements provided for by law. Only the petitions deemed to meet such requirements are subsequently examined by the Great and General Council. The Great and General Council is required to discuss the Istanze d’Arengo within the six-month mandate of the Captains Regent, to whom the petitions are submitted. A petition rejected by the Great and General Council cannot be submitted again unless 3 semesters have passed.

The exercise of control functions by the Great and General Council also includes all activities aimed at controlling the Government policies, in particular questions, interpellations and motions. Constitutional Law no.183/2005 has introduced another instrument enabling the Great and General Council to control the Government: the motion of no confidence, a typical institute of the parliamentary form of government, through which it is possible to verify whether the confidence relationship, necessary between the Parliament and the Government, no longer exists. In particular, in case a motion of no confidence is approved, the Congress of State is required to resign (Article 3 of Constitutional Law no. 183/2005). Also a single Minister, with regard to whom a motion of no confidence is voted and approved, is required to resign. However, the motion of no confidence approved vis--vis a single Minister has no consequence on the continuance in office of the entire Government.

The Great and General Council also exercises the administrative powers envisaged by the law (such as the disposal of the State property and provisions concerning the acquisition or re-acquisition of the San Marino citizenship). Finally, the Great and General Council has the power to grant an amnesty and pardon (Article 113 of the Criminal Code), as well as the so-called “abbreviated” rehabilitation (Article 119 of the Criminal Code).

Law no. 42 of 21 March 1995 has established five Permanent Parliamentary Commissions. The following Qualified Law no. 2 of 12 September 2006 has reduced the number of Commissions to four, appointed by the Great and General Council for the entire legislature. The Permanent Parliamentary Commissions are the following:
- Commission for Constitutional and Institutional Affairs; Public Administration; Internal Affairs, Civil Protection, Relations with the Township Councils; Justice; Education, Culture, Cultural Goods, University and Scientific Research;
- Commission for Foreign Affairs, Emigration and Immigration; Security and Public Order;Information;
- Finance, Budget and Planning; Handicraft, Industry, Commerce; Tourism, Services, Transport and Telecommunications; Labour and Cooperation;
- Hygiene and Health, Social Security; Social Policies, Sport; Territory, Environment and Agriculture.

The number of components, presently 15, may be updated through a Regency Decree with a view to guaranteeing proportionality criteria. The Commissions are appointed for the entire legislature through acknowledgement by the Great and General Council. The Ministers and the Captains Regent, throughout their mandate, cannot be members of the Permanent Parliamentary Commissions. The Captains Regent and the members of the Congress of State may participate in the sittings without voting right. The Commissions are composed of the various Parliamentary Groups on a proportional basis. Their tasks are complementary to those of the Great and General Council with regard to the examination and approval of draft laws and motions. They perform four specific functions. More specifically, they meet:
a) to examine and approve in first reading the draft laws, which are then submitted to the Great and General Council for the second reading;
b) to examine and approve the articles contained in the draft laws to be submitted to the Great and General Council exclusively for the final approval;
c) to express opinions on draft laws or matters assigned to other Commissions;
d) to examine motions deriving from the transformation of interpellations.

Moreover, the Commissions meet to hear and discuss the communications of the Congress of State, as well as to perform the functions of direction, control and information with regard to the matters falling within their competence. As far as their functioning is concerned, the provisions contained in the Rules of Procedure of the Great and General Council apply to the Permanent Parliamentary Commissions, unless otherwise provided for in Law no. 42/1995.

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