October 3, 2010 § Leave a comment

AndorraWho lives there?: Virtually nobody. 83,000 people in an area roughly the size of London’s east end.

How does the system work? (the theory): Andorra is the world’s only co-principality. The President of France and the Bishop of Urgell (a Catholic diocese in Northern Catalonia) are co-princes of Andorra and within this framework Andorra has a constitutional monarchy. In this role the President of France becomes the only monarch in the world to be elected.

Executive power rests with a prime minister chosen by the unicameral parliament: the General Council. This is elected every four years. There are 28 members: 14 are elected by closed list proportional representation. 14 are elected, two for each of the seven parishes, by multi member first past the post. The parishes vary greatly in size, some only having 350 people.

Each parish is governed by a directly elected mayor

How does the system work? (the practice): Andorra has no army, responsibility for defending Andorra rests with Spain and France.

How did we get here?: Andorra came into being as a side effect of various border disputes and has often been cruelly forgotten about by other, larger, countries. It declared war on Germany in 1914 at the start of WW1 and, as nobody bothered to include it in subsequent peace treaties, remained at war with Germany until 1954. There were various attempts to modernise Andorra’s governance in the 1930s, 1970s and 1980s and political parties only emerged in the early 1990s

Who’s in charge?: The centre-left Social Democrats (supported by the “Parochial Union of Independents) and their leader Josep Dallerès Codina. A centre-right coalition of the “Reformist Coalition” (Liberal Party of Andorra and others, 11 seats) and the centrist Andorra for Change (3 seats) had previously held power and the Council is delicately poised 14-14.

Update, at the last election a centre-right group – Democrats for Andorra – won 20 seats and thus power. The Social Democrats won 6 and a parochial group, the Lauredian Union, won the remaining two.

What does it look like?: Hilly:


What are the issues?: How best to utilize Andorra’s new found status as a tourist destination. How, and if, to reform Andorra’s partial tax haven and duty free status.

A good source of impartial information is: Andorrans tend to read French or Spanish newspapers. Diari d’Andorra doesn’t have many competitors and is in Catalan.

A good book is: I haven’t been able to find a book on the politics of Andorra.  I would hazard a guess that there are not many. Fragmentation and the International Relations of Micro-states: Self-determination and Statehood (Cambridge Studies in International and Comparative Law) covers Andorra. Andorra looks fantastic but isn’t actually about Andorra but a fictional coastal dystopia of the same name. Hip Hop Andorra 36 is the best in Andorran hip hop -I’m told.

When are the next elections?: Elections for the Council are due in 2013.


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