A vetocracy refers to a dysfunctional system of governance whereby no single entity can acquire enough power to make decisions and take effective charge. The term points to an excessive ability or willingness to use the veto power within a government or institution (without an adequate means of any override). Such limitations may point to a lack of trust among members or hesitance to cede sovereignty.
Some institutions which have been hampered by perceptions of vetocratic limitations (and even responsible for their downfall) include the Articles of Confederation, the Confederate States of America, and the League of Nations. The present-day United Nations Security Council is criticized for its inability to take decisive action due to the exclusive rights of veto power of permanent members. Thomas Friedman and Moisés Naím also used the term to describe the argument of Francis Fukuyama that the United States was facing such a crisis.
Vetocracy in social settings is formally equivalent to the principle of falsifiability in science, whereby a single objecting observation can falsify a proposition. Agreements under vetocracy are achieved, when consensus is reached, and none of the parties within a vetocratic system are left unsatisfied.
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