explore the Principality’s unique political system

The second smallest state in the world, after the Vatican, Monaco is a hereditary and constitutional monarchy. The Monegasques are going to vote this Sunday 5 February 2023, to renew their Parliament known as the National Council.

What is the National Council?

In Monaco, Prince Albert II and the National Council jointly exercise legislative power.

Also known as the Monegasque Assembly, it is the principality’s unicameral parliament. It is made up of 24 members elected for 5 years by popular vote. It is therefore the main representative body of the population. It votes on laws proposed by the government.

It is currently chaired by Brigitte Boccone-Pagès.

Who votes?

Of the 38,000 or so who live in this tiny 2.02 km² Principality, which is landlocked between Nice and Italy, but is not a member of the European Union, only 7,596 have the right to vote. Two conditions apply: they must be at least 25 years old and have Monegasque nationality.

How are the elections held?

The National Council is elected according to a mixed one-round ballot that gives 16 seats to the majority list, the other 8 seats are distributed proportionally to the lists that received more than 5% of the votes, and voters can . mix.

What is involved?

Although these councilors vote on laws and the budget, they cannot question the political responsibility of the government and, if necessary, overthrow it, because the latter is responsible only to Albert II, the Sovereign Prince.

According to Thierry Brezzo of the “Monegasque National Union” list, the main issues at stake in this next term of office are:

  • the signing of a possible association agreement with the European Union;

  • preservation of the Monegasque model and specificities: “If the priority in hiring, housing, the conditions of access to public contracts or certain regulated professions is not preserved, the entire Monegasque social agreement would be called into question,” in case. the lawyer.

How many lists?

There are two lists competing in this election.

In the role of your favorite person, the “Monegasque National Union” and its 13 outgoing deputies, led by Brigitte Boccone-Pagès, a 63-year-old former teacher, the first woman elected President of the National Council since its creation in 1911.

opposite, “New Ideas for Monaco”led by the current Dean of the Council, Daniel Boéri, 78, a former member of the majority.

With only 14 candidates, Mr Boéri admits he had “difficulty” compiling his list, due to “tremendous pressure”. But he hopes to distinguish between himself and “the vision” proposed, even if, between these two lists, “we cannot say that there are ideological distinctions, but philosophical ones”.

“New Ideas for Monaco” intends to “launch debates, especially on women’s rights and how to go further with abortion within the framework of the Constitution”. Although the voluntary termination of pregnancy was decriminalized in Monaco in 2019 and there is no longer a risk of imprisonment for women undergoing an abortion, abortion is still prohibited.

Mr. Boéri also asked the Monegasque government to systematically assess the “ecological impact of the decisions taken”.

What is the connection between Monaco and Europe?

Like Andorra and San Marino, Monaco has been in negotiations with the European Union since March 2015 to sign an association agreement. The aim is to make life easier for citizens and companies within the European internal market. The biggest challenge is to increase Monaco’s economic attractiveness.

This would, for example, eliminate the obstacles faced by Monegasque economic agents in accessing the European internal market. This would provide greater legal certainty in their exchanges. According to the Monegasque government, an agreement would also allow nationals to move around the European Union more easily. For example, the agreement would allow national students to study in European universities without additional costs.

Monegasque life

The National Council has set limits, such as maintaining national priority in all areas, maintaining reserved access for nationals to state-owned housing, exclusive access for Monegasques to certain regulated professions, mandatory prior authorization for residents and companies to establish on Monegasque territory , and maintaining the declaration system for Monegasques.

In a press release published in the summer of 2022, the Monegasque National Council indicated that talks were continuing “with a view to finalizing negotiations for a possible association agreement by the end of 2023”. This is also the wish of the Council of the European Union. Therefore, the pace of negotiations should be accelerated with a monthly meeting between the main elements of the dossier.

If an agreement is reached, Monaco will have “associate state” status and will not be a member of the EU. Monaco will remain a third state in the European Union.

A little history

The history of the current principality only began in the 13th century thanks to a Genoese family: the Ghibellines. On 10 June 1215, the Ghibellines laid the foundation stone of the fortress which was the basis of the current prince’s palace. In order to attract settlers, the first lords of the “Rock” gave valuable advantages to the newcomers, such as land grants and tax exemptions.

In 1297, after a battle won by François Grimaldi against Genoa, known as Malizia, the house of Grimaldi, a rich family of Genoese nobles, received the “seigneury of Monaco”.

House of Grimaldi

Rainier I, founder of the Grimaldi dynasty of Monaco, defeated the Dutch at Ziriksee (Netherlands), while serving under the French King Philip the Fair. This achievement earned him the title “Grand Admiral of France” and facilitated the political independence of the small seigneury. However, Monaco did not become part of the Grimaldi family until 1419.

In 1489, the King of France, Charles VIII, recognized Monaco’s independence. Later, Louis XII renewed this recognition in 1512, and Francis I in turn in 1515.

In the 17th century, the Grimaldis became dukes of Valentinois (Drome) and barons of Massy, ​​titles and lands they lost during the French Revolution on 4 August 1793. Even the Grimaldis were dispossessed, and the Principality was unilaterally annexed by the France about it. the name Fort-d’Hercule and it became the capital of the canton of Alpes-Maritimes, a simple French commune at that time. With the Treaty of Vienna in 1815 the principality became the “protector of the Kingdom of Sardinia”.

Independent again

In 1861, Monaco became an independent principality again and placed itself under the protection of France. Prince Albert I granted it a constitution in 1911. Since then, the rule of succession has been that France would inherit the Principality in the event of the demise of the Grimaldi dynasty.

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