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General Council of Andorra

General Council of Andorra
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The General Council (in Catalan, Consell General) is the unicameral parliament of Andorra. It is sometimes referred to as the General Council of the Valleys (in Catalan, Consell General de les Valls) because it was the historical name and to distinguish it from similarly named bodies in the Vall d'Aran and in France.

Contents

Organization

It has twenty-eight members, serving four-year terms. Fourteen are elected at large, by proportional representation from a single constituency of the entire nation; the other fourteen are elected by the seven parishes which make up Andorra. This is a recent development; originally, the seven parishes had each returned four deputies. However, as parishes varied in population from 350 to 2,500, this was felt to be significantly imbalanced, and a national list was introduced for the 1997 elections to counter the disproportionate power held by the smallest parishes.

The Council appoints a presiding officer, titled the Síndic general, and a deputy, the subsíndic. The current Síndic general is Joan Gabriel i Estany of the Liberal Party of Andorra.

The General Council (subject to approval of the Co-Princes) elects the Head of Government, who presides over the Executive Council. The Head of Government, in turn, appoints the remainder of the Executive Council, which consists of themselves and seven appointed ministers. The current Head of Government, is Albert Pintat Santolària, himself previously a member of the Executive Council.

Membership

The most recent elections were those of April 2005, giving the Liberal Party of Andorra fourteen seats, and the Social Democratic Party, the main opposition party, eleven. The remaining three seats are held by two minor parties. Again, political parties are a recent innovation; the first party was formed in 1976, and they only gained legal recognition in 1992.

Despite this narrow margin, the Liberal Party was able to form a government; it has now won three consecutive elections, and has been in power since 1994. The opposition is currently led by Jaume Bartumeu of the Social Democrats.

e • d  Summary of the 26 April 2009 Andorran General Council election results
Parties and alliances Votes % Seats
Social Democratic Party (Partit Socialdemòcrata) 6,610 45.03 14
Reformist Coalition (Coalició Reformista) 4,747 32.34 11
Andorra for Change (Andorra pel Canvi) 2,768 18.86 3
Greens of Andorra (Els Verds d'Andorra) 466 3.17
National Union of Progress (Unió Nacional de Progrés) 88 0.60
Total (turnout 75.3%)     28
Total Valid Votes 14,679
Invalid Votes 136
Blank Votes 478
Registered Voters 20,298
Numbers of votes and percentages are for the respective national list. Numbers of seats include seats won by the parish lists.
Source: Government of Andorra.

History

The first parliament in Andorra was established in 1419, as the Consell de la Terra. Councillors were elected by the population, and the council appointed syndics to manage the administration of the principality. It remained in force for several hundred years, slowly becoming the fiefdom of a few major families; this caused popular discontent by the nineteenth century, and major reforms were instituted in 1866[1].

The reforms were masterminded by Guillem de Areny i de Plandolit, and had several effects:

  • The Consell de la Terra was abolished, and replaced by the Consell General de las Valls, with a syndic and vice-syndic
  • The franchise was extended to all heads of families
  • Regular elections were laid down; in this case, twelve of the twenty-four (as there then were) councillors were to be elected every two years

In the 1930s, matters again began to boil over; one point of particular contention was that the Council had begun regularly referring to Andorra as a republic, which understandably caused some contention with the co-princes. The General Council was dissolved on their order in June 1933, and a special election called to re-elect it. The opportunity was taken to change the voting laws; at this point, all men over twenty-five could vote, and all men over thirty stand for election.

In 1970 the vote was extended to women over twenty-five; in 1971 the qualifying age for all electors was lowered to twenty-one, and that of candidates to twenty-five. Women gained the right to run for office in 1973, and in 1978 a referendum was held on the matter of further reform.

Later that year, a seventh parish (Escaldes-Engordany) was formed, bringing the numbers of councillors to twenty-eight.

In 1982, the Executive Council was created, comprising the Executive Council President and four councillors with ministerial duties.

See also

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