Presidential Veto Powers

Available also in Arabic

Overview

What?

  • A presidential veto is a constitutional rule that enables a president (or elected head of state who might, in some cases, go by another title) to refuse assent to a bill that has been passed by the legislature, and thereby to stop the bill from becoming law. The grounds on which the veto power may be exercised and the difficulty of overturning the veto vary between jurisdictions.

Why?

  • Historically, the veto power was intended mainly as a passive instrument to protect the constitutional separation of powers and the rights of citizens as part of a system of checks and balances. It retains this function in many cases but has also emerged as an instrument of inter-institutional policy bargaining in democracies characterized by presidential leadership. 

Why not?

  • The veto power puts great power and responsibility in the hands of one person: why should one person’s decision outweigh the decision of a whole legislative assembly?
  • Excessive presidential veto powers may unbalance the working relationship between the executive and legislative branches, resulting in a combination of autocracy and deadlock.

Where?

  • Strong presidential veto powers are typically found in presidential democracies that are based on the classical 18th and 19th century model of the separation of the powers.
  • Weaker presidential veto powers are found mainly in semipresidential democracies and in recent presidential systems where the president’s legislative leadership role is recognized. 

Available also in Arabic