Politics of Andorra

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Andorra
Image:Coat of arms of Andorra.svg

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Politics and government of
Andorra



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Politics of Andorra takes place in a framework of a parliamentary representative democratic country, whereby the Prime Minister of Andorra is the head of government, and of a pluriform multi-party system. Executive power is exercised by the government. Legislative power is vested in both the government and parliament. The Judiciary is independent of the executive and the legislature.

Until very recently, Andorra's political system had no clear division of powers into executive, legislative, and judicial branches. A constitution was ratified and approved in 1993. The constitution establishes Andorra as a sovereign parliamentary democracy that retains as its heads of state a co-principality (or duumvirate), but the head of government retains executive power. The two co-princes serve coequally with limited powers that do not include a veto over government acts. They are 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 which 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 of Andorra a fact.

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

Contents

[edit] Executive branch

Under the new 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 La Seu d'Urgell maintain supreme authority in approval of all international treaties with France and Spain, as well as all those which 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 in which 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 Jacques Chirac (it has historically been any Head of State of France, including Kings and Emperors of the French). The other is the current 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 4 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 Jacques Chirac, President of France UMP 17 May 1995
Joan Enric Vives i Sicilia, Bishop of La Seu d'Urgell, Spain 12 May 2003
Prime minister Albert Pintat Santolària PLA 27 May 2005
Sindic General Joan Gabriel Estany 17 May 2005

[edit] Legislative branch

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 4 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 the smaller parishes, who have as few as 350 voters, the same number of representatives as larger parishes which have up to 2,600 voters. To correct this imbalance, a provision in the new constitution introduces a modification of the structure and format for electing the members of the Council; under this new format, half of the representatives are to be chosen by the traditional system, while the other half are selected from nationwide lists.

A sindic and a subsindic are chosen by the General Council to implement its decisions. They serve 3-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.

[edit] Political parties and elections

The following election results include names of political parties. See for additional information about parties the List of political parties in Andorra. An overview on elections and election results is included in Elections in Andorra.
[discuss] – [edit]
Summary of the 24 April 2005 General Council of Andorra election results
Parties Votes % Seats
Liberal Party of Andorra (Partit Liberal Andorra') 5,100 41.2 14</tr>
Social Democratic Party (Partit Socialdemòcrata) 4,711 38.1 11</tr>
Andorran Democratic Centre (Centre Demòcrata Andorrà ) and Century 21 (Segle 21) 1,360 11.0 2</tr>
Democratic Renewal (Renovació Democràtica ) 772 6.2 1
Greens of Andorra (Els Verds d'Andorra) 433 3.5 -
Total (turnout 80.4 %)     28
Total Valid Votes 12,376
Invalid Votes 116
Blank Votes 387
Registered Voters 16,022
More info: Andorran parliamentary election, 2005

[edit] Judicial branch

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 battles court--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.

[edit] Administrative divisions

Andorra is divided into 7 parishes (parròquies, singular - parròquia); Andorra la Vella, Canillo, Encamp, La Massana, Escaldes-Engordany, Ordino, Sant Julia de Loria

[edit] Defense

Andorra has no defense forces and only a small internal police force. All able-bodied men who own firearms must serve, without remuneration, in the small army, which is unique in that all of its men are treated as officers. The army has not fought for more than 700 years, and its main responsibility is to present the Andorran flag at official ceremonies.

[edit] Political conditions

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 may obtain citizenship after 25 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. Noncitizens are allowed to own only a 33% share of a company. Only after they have resided in the country for 20 years, will they be entitled to own a 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 will 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.

A secessionist movement exists, based at Pas de la Casa. This has only limited support. The Front Envaliran de Libération proposes a state in association with France.

[edit] International organization participation

CoE, ECE, ICC, ICRM, Interpol, IOC, ITU, OSCE, UN, UNESCO, WCO, WHO, WIPO, WToO

[edit] External

Politics of Andorra

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