Most of the countries around the world have written constitution as their guiding principles and supreme law. However, the length of the constitution differs from one nation to another. The Constitution of India is the longest written constitution in the world with at least 145,000 words. However, Monaco, the world’s second-smallest country (after Vatican City State) has the shortest written constitution in the world. First adopted in 1911, the Constitution of Monaco was extensively revised by Prince Rainier III on December 17, 1962. By word count, the governing document Monaco has approximately 3,800 words compared to India's 145,000 words.
Brief Overview of the Constitution of Monaco
The Constitution of Monaco is the fundamental law of the country. it outlines the arms of government, administrative offices, and councils that share the legislative and advisory powers with the prince. According to the constitution, the prince holds the highest executive powers while the Minister of State is the head of government. The line of succession to the Monegasque throne is also clearly outlined in the constitution. The prince also shares powers with the unicameral parliament (National Council). Although the National Council is independent of the prince, it requires the signature of the prince in any of its proposed laws. According to the 1962 constitution, the judicial powers are also vested on the prince who can delegate the judicial procedures to the courts. Justice is often dispensed in the name of the prince. The Constitution of Monaco is written in French but translated into English. However, in case of a difference between English and French, French takes precedence.
Structure of the Constitution
The Constitution of Monaco is divided into 12 chapters with the chapters further divided into 96 articles. In total, the constitution has 3,814 words. The first chapter of the constitution highlights what the principality is all about and the public power while chapter two deals with the succession to the throne. The fundamental freedom and rights are defined in chapter three. Chapters 4 to 10 deals with public finance and define the role of different state organs such as the government, State Council, National Council, Crown Council, the Commune, and the Judiciary. The final two chapters define the process amending the constitution and the final provisions of the constitution.
Amending the Constitution and Other Existing Laws and Regulations
According to Article 93, the Constitution of Monaco cannot be suspended. However, it can either be reviewed in full or in part. For the constitution to be reviewed there has to be a joint agreement between the prince and the unicameral National Council. Either the prince or the National Council can initiate the review process. For the National Council to initiate the process, the proceeding must be supported by two-thirds majority of the members elected at the assembly. The country’s laws and regulations remain applicable to the point that they are not compatible with the constitution. These laws and regulations can also be amended as soon as possible in order to comply with the constitution.