Tuesday, 3 September 2019

most serene

This day in 301 AD marks the traditional founding of the state sometimes referred to as the Titanic Republic due to the location of its first church at the summit of Monte Titano built by stonemason Marinus of Rab and his compatriot Leo who fled Emperor Diocletian’s persecution of Christians after helping to rebuild the city walls of neighbouring Rimini after a raid by pirates, and the national day of San Marino (Serenissima Repubblica di San Marino, previously here, here, here and here), the world‘s fifth smallest country and an enclave of Italy, is a good invitation to reflect on the nature of res publica and governance.
Looking at San Marino’s constitution, stability, solvency plus its longevity, one has to question whether we’re even understanding the subject. Prior to 1243, San Marino had no true head of state with only the Pope was nominal ruler and affairs of the city were governed by a oligarchy of the great families called the Argengo. Genoese Innocent IV, fearing that the families were growing too powerful, intervened to check their authority by investing democratic processes in the Grand and General Councils. From this elected body—sixty representatives, members elevate two Captains Regent to govern for a term of six-months. Like the Argengo’s roots in the patrician senate, the policy of nominating a pair of leaders (the co-rulers being from opposing political parties), short incumbency periods and frequent elections date back to the Roman Republic’s consulship, the city state being formed as the Empire began its decline. San Marino has had more female heads of state than any other country.  At the expiration of their half-a-year term, there’s a three day evaluation period during which the public can levy complaints against ex-leaders (consecutive terms are not allowed) and initiate legal proceedings if warranted. I think we owe a great debt to the Sammarinese for this civics lesson alone.