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Valira Torrent:   Contents | Subject index


Perforation image from Serif Art Gallery. © Serif Inc, 1996

Valira Torrent - bulletin of the Andorran Philatelic Study Circle. Issue 19, pp2-3 (March 1984)

Copyright notice

Governing Andorra (Part 2)

By David Hope

No further conflicts in government took place after 1866 until the late 1920's and early 1930's. At this time it seems that the Consell General began to take an independent line. One example of this were the negotiations with Friedrich Weilenmann concerning an Andorran postal service. (Valira Torrent 3/1) Another example was the reference to Andorra as a Republic, this being indicated on passports and car registration plates, as well as on postcards. Matters came to a head in 1933 when the Co-princes issued a decree dismissing the Consell General. On June 10th the Tribunal de Corts (the highest judicial authority in Andorra) upheld the decree. However, many Andorrans objected to this action. They claimed that the right of protectorship of the Co-princes excluded interference in internal affairs. As a result fifty French gendarmes were sent to enforce the action of the Co-princes. A provisional government was appointed pending general elections. Before these took place the electoral system was reformed giving all men over twenty-five years of age the vote, and giving those over thirty the right to stand for election.

50th Anniversary of universal suffrage

In June 1934 the new Consell General decreed that the country shall be known as Les Valls d'Andorra, and all references to La Republica d'Andorra were to be removed.

A curious incident took place in July 1934. A Russian Boris de Skossyreff, proclaimed himself Prince Boris I of Andorra. In his short 'reign' he promulgated a 'constitution', issued numerous 'decrees' and declared war on the Bishop of Seo de Urgel! He was arrested on the orders of the Spanish Government, although it had no rights in Andorra, and taken to Barcelona.

No further developments took place until the l970's. In the meantime, particularly from the 1950's, Andorra had developed into a tourist centre and duty-free area. This development led to an influx of foreigners and foreign money to exploit tourism. As a result native Andorrans were outnumbered by foreigners.

Postmark for visit of Genral de Gaulle

In 1967 General de Gaulle, as Co-prince of Andorra, visited the country. In the course of his speech he suggested that Andorrans should liberalise the existing nationality qualifications. At the time Andorran nationality was only granted to the third generation children of a foreign family settled in Andorra. In March 1977 a decree issued by the permanent delegates of the Co-princes granted Andorran nationality to first generation children born in Andorra of foreign parents. In December 1977 the vote was extended to first generation Andorrans of foreign parents provided they were twenty-eight years old.

Meanwhile, changes had been made in voting qualifications for Andorrans. All Andorran women over twenty-five years received the vote in 1970, and from 1973 women could stand for public office. In 1971 the qualifying age for the vote was lowered to twenty-one, and for election to public office to twenty-five.

During 1976 a new political development occurred. The Andorran Democratic Association (A.D.A.) was formed with the object of establishing an 'authentic democracy' in Andorra.

During 1977 two developments occurred. Firstly, the Consell General issued 'modernised' passports. The Declaration on the first page was given in Catalan, Spanish and French (previously French had been second) Secondly, the declaration was in the name of the Sindic General and not the Co-princes. The French viguier's office refused to accept this passport.

Meanwhile, there had been discussions about institutional reforms. It was decided to hold a vote on which reforms should be put to a referendum in 1978.

The A.D.A. proposed that the General Council should be elected on national lists by proportional representation and that there should be direct election of Sindics. The referendum took place in January 1978 despite objections from the Co-princes, but the results were inconclusive. However, in March, the Consell General reaffirmed its commitment to reform. In June the new parish of Les Escaldes-Engordany was created (a proposal in the referendum) so the Consell General now had twenty-eight seats. Prior to this it had twenty-four seats, six parishes supplying four members each.

In December 1979 the A.D.A. became the Democratic Party of Andorra (D.P.A.). It is tolerated although political parties (and trade unions) are prohibited.

In December 1980 a project for reform was presented by the Co-princes. The Consell General and representatives of the Co-princes discussed the project and agreed

  1. an executive should be formed by the Consell General
  2. a referendum on voting methods for the Consell General to be held.

However, no agreement was reached on a constitution for Andorra and on the Principality's international status. During 1981 divisions within the Consell General hampered progress.

Conflicts arose in 1981 concerning radio stations in Andorra. The Consell General wished to take over control of broadcasting when existing contracts expired. When the Co-princes refused, the Consell General closed the radio stations (Radio Andorra and Sud Radio). Finally in September it was agreed

  1. to set up society to regulate broadcasting - equal representation from Consell General and Co-princes
  2. Andorrans have the right to operate radio stations
  3. Consell General to have full sovereignty over national stations transmitting 'solely and exclusively in Andorran territory'.

Andorra was also to seek membership of the ITU.

Creation of the Andorran Government

Elections were held in December 1981. The electorate totalled 3,648 and there was a 74.5% turnout. However, blank votes totalled l7.4% - responding to a call from the D.P.A. As a result of these elections, an Executive Council was appointed in January 1982. In a secret ballot on January 4th, a First Sindic-General (head of the Council) and a Second Sindic were elected for three years. Both cease to be members of the Consell General. On January 8th Sr Oscar Ribas Reig was elected as Andorra's first head of Government. The Government comprised four councillors for

  1. Public Works
  2. Finance, Commerce and Industry
  3. Agriculture and National Patrimony
  4. Education and Culture.

On January 15th Sr Ribas Reig presented his government's programme. He spoke of the necessity to make Andorra into a fully constitutional state; the possibility of the 'Andorranisation' of education; and the intention to defend local industry and promote private investment.

No doubt further developments will take place during this decade - perhaps even concerning the postal services. One shall wait with interest future developments in all respects .....

Part 1

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