San Marino - World Gen Web
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San Marino - World Gen Web

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San Marino is the only surviving Italian city-state. Like Andorra, Liechtenstein and Monaco, it is an anachronism, a reminder of the times when Europe - particularly Germany, Italy and the Pyrenees - was made up of tiny political units, often extending no further than a cannon could fire from a city's walls. Of all the small European countries, San Marino's survival is the most surprising. Apart from the Vatican City (whose development followed a different course), it is the only one which is completely surrounded by one other country. Various treaties of friendship have been signed with Italy since the latter's unification, but San Marino proudly asserts its independence where possible. Having joined the Council of Europe as a full member in 1988, San Marino held the chair of the organisation during the first half of 1990. Domestically, San Marino has evolved a pluralistic system of government similar to that in Italy. The major political parties are the Progressive Democrats (ex-communists), Socialists, Christian Democrats, Social Democrats and the leftist Partito Socialista Unitario. Like their Italian counterparts, the communists decided to change their title soon after the collapse of communist rule in Eastern Europe. The country was governed by a coalition of the Progressive Democratic Party and the Christian Democrats from 1990 until March 1992, when the Christian Democrats decided that their alliance with the Progressive Democrats was 'outdated' and immediately moved into coalition with the Socialists to form the ruling bloc. The same month, San Marino became a member of the United Nations. The latest election held in May 1993 gave the most seats to the Christian Democrats (26) and the Socialists (14) who repeated their previous arrangement and went into coalition.

Government: Legislative power is vested in the Consiglio Grande e Generale (Great and General Council) which has 60 members elected by universal adult suffrage for 5-year terms. The country is divided into nine 'Castles', representing the nine original parishes. Each is governed by a 'Castle-Captain', who holds office for two years. Two 'Captains-Regents', elected by the Council for 6-month terms, act as joint heads of state.