explore the unique political system of the principality

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, February 5, 2023, to renew their Parliament called the National Council.

What is the National Council?

In Monaco, the legislative power is exercised jointly 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 main representative body of the population. Vote on laws proposed by the government.

It is currently chaired by Brigitte Boccone-Pagès.

Who votes?

Of the 38,000 inhabitants of this tiny Principality of 2.02 km², which is located between Nice and Italy, but which 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 by mixed vote in a round that grants 16 seats to the majority list, the remaining 8 seats are distributed proportionally among the lists that have obtained more than 5% of the votes, and the voters have the possibility of taking a mix.

What is at risk?

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

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

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

  • the preservation of the Monegasque model and the specificities: “If the priority for contracting, housing, the conditions of access to public contracts or certain regulated professions are not preserved, it is the entire Monegasque social pact that would be in question”, he fears Lawyer.

How many lists?

Two lists compete in this election.

In the role of favourite, the “Monegasque National Union” and its 13 outgoing deputies, headed 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”headed by the current dean of the Council, Daniel Boéri, 78, a former member of the majority.

With only 14 candidates, Boéri admits he had “difficulty” putting together his list due to the “fantastic pressure.” But he hopes to be distinguished by “the vision” that he proposes, although, between these two lists, “we cannot say that there are ideological distinctions, but philosophical ones.”

“New ideas for Monaco” aims to “launch debates, in particular on women’s rights and on how to advance the issue of abortion within the framework of the Constitution.” Although voluntary termination of pregnancy was decriminalized in Monaco in 2019 and women who have an abortion no longer risk jail time, it is still prohibited to perform an abortion.

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

What is the link between Monaco and Europe?

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

This would eliminate, for example, the obstacles encountered by Monegasque economic agents in accessing the European internal market. This would guarantee greater legal certainty in their exchanges. According to the Monegasque government, an agreement would also allow nationals to move more easily within the European Union. For example, the agreement would allow national students to study at 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 publicly owned housing, exclusive access for Monegasques to certain regulated professions, mandatory prior authorization for residents and companies to establish themselves in Monegasque territory, and the maintenance of the declaratory regime for Monegasques.

In a press release published in the summer of 2022, Monaco’s National Council indicated that discussions 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. Thus, the pace of the negotiations should be accelerated with a monthly meeting between the protagonists of the dossier.

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

A little story

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 first stone of the fortress that served as the base of the current princely palace. In order to attract inhabitants, the first lords of the “Peñón” granted valuable advantages to the newcomers, such as land grants and tax exemptions.

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.

Grimaldi’s House

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

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

In the 17th century, the Grimaldis were made 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 dispossessed, while the principality was annexed unilaterally by France under the name of Fort-d’Hercule and became the principal city of the canton of the 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 was placed under the protection of France. Prince Albert I granted him a constitution in 1911. Since then, the rule of return has been that in the event of the extinction of the Grimaldi dynasty, France inherits the principality.

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