It is likewise a fundamental law in democracies that the people should have the sole power to enact laws. And yet there are a thousand occasions on which it is necessary for the senate to enact laws; moreover it is frequently proper to make some trial of a law before it is established. The constitutions of Rome and Athens were extremely wise. The decrees of the senate had the force of laws for a year; and did not become perpetual until they were ratified by the consent of the people.

—Montesquieu. The Spirit of the Laws, 1748.

Under representative democracy, legislators tend to support each other’s pork barrel schemes in return for support of their own. This secures their campaign funding but foists needless and unwanted laws on the people. The people need to be able to counter this tendency by repealing unwanted laws.

A legislative veto would allow the people to annul laws that are only supported by special interests. Under this check, every law passed in the previous twelve months would appear on an electronic ballot. If the majority of those voting refuse to affirm a law, it would automatically be repealed. Additionally, the people should be empowered to exercise a line item veto to strike down offensive provisions in otherwise desirable laws.

This article is an extract from the book ‘Principles of Good Government’ by Matthew Bransgrove