explore the unique political system of the principality

Monaco, the second smallest state in the world after the Vatican, is a hereditary and constitutional monarchy. The Monegasques will vote on Sunday, February 5, 2023 to renew their parliament, called the National Council.

What is the National Council?

In Monaco, legislative power is jointly exercised by Prince Albert II and the National Council.

Also called the Monegasque Assembly, it is the unicameral parliament of the Principality. It is composed of 24 members elected for 5 years by universal suffrage. It is therefore the most important 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 approximately 38,000 inhabitants of this small principality of 2.02 km², which is enclosed between Nice and Italy, but is not a member of the European Union, only 7,596 have the right to vote. There are two conditions: they must be at least 25 years old and hold the Monegasque nationality.

How are the elections going?

The National Council is elected on a mixed ballot that gives 16 seats to the majority list, the remaining 8 seats are divided proportionally between the lists that received more than 5% of the vote, and voters have the option of a mixture.

What’s at stake?

Although these councilors vote on laws and the budget, they cannot question and, if necessary, overthrow the political responsibility of the government, as it is answerable 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 in office are:

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

  • preserving the Monegasque model and its specificities: “If the priority given to recruitment, housing, the conditions of access to public contracts or to certain regulated professions is not preserved, the entire Monegasque social pact would be called into question”, the lawyer fears .

How many lists?

Two lists are participating in this election.

In the role of favorite, 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 Council’s current dean, Daniel Boéri, 78, a former majority member.

With only 14 candidates, Mr Boéri admits he had “difficulty” compiling his list because of the “fantastic pressure”. But he hopes to distinguish himself by “the vision” that is proposed, even if between these two lists we can “not say that there are ideological differences, but rather philosophical ones”.

“New Ideas for Monaco” aims to “start debates, particularly on women’s rights and on how to move forward with abortion within the framework of the Constitution”. Although voluntary termination of pregnancy was decriminalized in Monaco in 2019 and women who have an abortion are no longer at risk of going to prison, performing an abortion is still prohibited.

Boéri also called on the Monegasque government to systematically assess “the environmental impact of decisions taken”.

What is the link 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. Its aim is to make life easier for its citizens and businesses within the European single market. The big challenge is to increase the economic attractiveness of Monaco.

This would, for example, remove the barriers faced by Monegasque economic operators in accessing the European single market. This would guarantee 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 at European universities at no extra cost.

Monegasque life

The National Council has set limits such as maintaining national priority in all areas, maintaining reserved access for citizens of the state to state residences, exclusive access for Monegasques to certain regulated professions, mandatory prior authorization for residents and businesses to establish themselves in Monegasque territory , and maintaining the declaratory regime 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 on a possible association agreement by the end of 2023”. This is also the wish of the Council of the European Union. The pace of the negotiations should therefore be accelerated with a monthly meeting between the protagonists of the dossier.

If a deal is reached, Monaco will gain “associated state” status and will not become a member of the EU. Monaco remains a third state of the European Union.

A bit of history

The history of the current principality only began in the 13th century thanks to a Genoese family: the Ghibellines. On June 10, 1215, the Ghibellines laid the foundation stone of the fortress that served as the basis of the current Prince’s Palace. To attract inhabitants, the first lords of the “Rock” granted the newcomers valuable benefits, such as the grant of land and tax exemption.

In 1297, after a battle won against Genoa by François Grimaldi, known as Malizia, the “lordship of Monaco” was acquired by the house of Grimaldi, a wealthy family of Genoese nobility.

House of Grimaldi

Rainier I, the 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 petty lordship. 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 (Drôme) and barons of Massy, ​​titles and lands they lost during the French Revolution on August 4, 1793. The Grimaldis were even expropriated, while the principality was unilaterally annexed by France under the name of Fort-d’Hercule and became the capital of the canton of Alpes-Maritimes, then a simple French commune. The 1815 Treaty of Vienna made the principality a “Protectorate 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 devolution has been that, in the event of the extinction of the Grimaldi dynasty, France inherits the principality.

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