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veto [Lat.,=I forbid], power of one functionary (e.g., the president) of a government, or of one member of a group or coalition, to block the operation of laws or agreements passed or entered into by the other functionaries or members.
In the U.S. government, Article I, Section 7 of the Constitution gives the president the power to veto any bill passed by Congress. The president's veto power is limited; it may not be used to oppose constitutional amendments, and it may be overridden by a two-thirds vote of both houses of Congress. In practice, the veto is used rarely by the president (although Franklin D. Roosevelt vetoed over 600 bills), and a bill once vetoed is rarely reapproved in the same form by Congress. The pocket veto is based on the constitutional provision that a bill fails to go into operation if it is unsigned by the president and Congress goes out of session within ten days of its passage; the president may effectively veto such a bill by ignoring it. The British crown's technical veto power over acts of Parliament has not been exercised since 1707.
American states have generally given their governors veto power similar to that of the president. In addition, more than 40 states have legislated a line-item veto, which, in varying terms, allows the governor to veto particular provisions of taxing and spending bills. In 1996, Congress passed a law that gave the president a limited ability to kill items in similar federal bills, but it was ruled unconstitutional in 1998.
The second type of veto, by one member of a coalition, has been seen frequently as exercised by one or another member of the United Nations Security Council; its use within the European Union is under debate.
in ancient Rome a right exercised by a Roman magistrate (right of intercession) with respect to the decisions and actions of another magistrate. The right of veto of the people’s tribunes was particularly important. In Poland in the 17th century the so-called liberum veto was in effect; complete unanimity was required in the decisions of the sejm.
In bourgeois states the head of state has the right to refuse to put into force a draft law adopted by the legislative organ. The right of veto came into being in monarchical states during the period when a balance of power developed between the executive organ, represented by the monarch, and parliament. Monarchs as a rule had the absolute right of veto, and the imposition of the veto meant that the draft law was entirely discarded and would not be subjected to further examination in parliament. The establishment of parliamentarism in bourgeois countries, the decline in the prestige of monarchist tradition, and the concentration of all power in the hands of the governments brought to an end the practice of the use of the veto by the monarch (in England, for example, a veto was imposed for the last time in 1707) although it is theoretically still retained.
In most of the bourgeois republics of today the right of veto is vested in the head of state—the president. As a rule, it is a deferring veto: in refusing to enforce the draft law (which means, in most cases, the refusal to sign it), the president must refer it back to parliament for further examination. If the draft law is once again adopted by parliament in accordance with the conditions laid down in the constitution, it becomes law without the sanction of the head of state. In a number of countries, including the United States, where the head of state may exercise the right of veto only within a certain time limit, constitutional practice has given rise to the so-called pocket veto: a draft law not signed by the president within a given time limit is considered to have lapsed, if at the expiry of the time limit the houses of parliament are not in session. In the United States from 1945 to 1966 inclusive, the right of veto was used in the case of 192 bills, and Congress was able to overrule the president (that is, pass the bill a second time) in 15 cases in all. Over the same period of time, the pocket veto was used in 207 cases.
In socialist countries, where the right to pass laws is vested in the supreme representative organ (for example, the Supreme Soviet in the USSR), the constitution does not accord the right of veto to the head of state.
In international law, the nonunanimity of the five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council is sometimes referred to as recourse to a veto.
B. S. KRYLOV