Which can be considered the “San Marino parliament”, is mentioned in documents dating back to the 13th century; in that period, it almost certainly shared power and control of the small San Marino community with other political bodies such as the Arengo and the Council of the XII and consisted of sixty members.
During the course of the centuries, the Council was the most powerful authority in the country, to the extent that the 17th-cent. statutes call it “the supreme, absolute and only prince” of the State.
Until the 17th century, it was the Arengo (i.e., the assembly of San Marino family heads) that periodically elected the councillors, but the 17th-cent. statutes established that the Council should directly appoint its new members by co-option.
This rule resulted in the gradual establishment of an oligarchic government in the hands of the main San Marino families, a system that lasted until 25 March 1906 when, after years of dispute and requests to restore an elective council system, by popular demand, the Arengo of the heads of family was convened (after having been set aside for over three centuries) to decide whether to leave the situation as it was, or make it more democratic. The majority opted for periodical elections, and from that year on, the Council was renewed by the citizens every three years, and then every five.
In the past, the Council had consisted of twenty members of all San Marino social classes (nobles, citizens, countrymen), while today it is formed of representatives chosen from among the electoral body at the proposal of the different local political parties, during the electoral campaign normally held every five years.
After the population expresses its vote and appoints the 60 members, the Council takes office and gives life to a new legislative body. The Council periodically convenes to examine and debate the items on the agenda, i.e., a series of items of various kinds relating to the management of the State. It is chaired by the Regency, with the assistance of the Presidency Office, which is a political body consisting of various councillors with the task of drawing up the agenda, and looking after the organisation of the meeting before and during its staging.
Its fundamental function is legislative, because it is the body that draws up and approves all State laws. Another of its primary functions is political-administrative; in fact, the Council determines the constitution of the government after approving its political programme, and monitors to ensure it always governs in compliance with the laws. The Council also appoints the Regents, the magistrates, the diplomatic representatives, and all the members with political duties, or who occupy highly-responsible positions within the San Marino State.
It is also charged with approving the annual preliminary State budget.
Specific requisites are needed to be appointed councillor: e.g., be 21 years of age or more, be domiciled in the Republic, have a spotless criminal record, not be a magistrate, not belong to any military corps.
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