The Council of Regency acts collectively and is the highest ranking body in the State of San Marino. As indicated in Art. 3 of the Declaration of Rights, this body carries out the duties of the Head of State. It is composed of two Regents (Capitani Reggenti) nominated semi-annually by the Grand and General Council, which chooses them from their own Councilors; a vote is cast by each member of the Council on single ballots indicating the names of two members.
The pair of names which receives the majority of the votes is elected. The mandate is for a fixed period of time and lasts 6 months, from April 1st and from October 1st of every year. Requisites required to cover the position of Regent are:
- member of the Grand and General Council
- 25 years of age or more
- native San Marino citizenship (resulting from birth)
- not having covered the position of Regent during the last 3 years
The Regents cover the positions of President of the State Congress, of the Grand and General Council and of the Council of XII; moreover, they have the power to legislate by Presidential Decree in case of emergency; this type of law-making has a validity of 3 months and to maintain validity must be rectified by the Grand and General Council. In lieu of this rectification, the decree will be declared invalid.
At the end of their mandate, the Regents undergo a constitutional and administrative control as determined by statutes.
Historically, the Regency was instituted to administer justice; later, its responsibilities were widened to include administrative functions which for hundreds of years were controlled in collaboration with the Grand and General Council.
Until 1200 the Regents were called Consuls; then in 1295 they were invested with the title “Captain” (Capitaneus) for first-class citizens and “Difensor” (Defensor) for the rural classes. Finally, in 1317 both were called with the title of Captain or Rector (Capitaneus seu Rector) from which originates the present title of Regent (Capitano Reggente). Local legends narrate that it was, in fact, San Marino who instituted the system of double regency, to avoid concentrating all the power in one person.