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Every single member of the Polish parliament during the 17th and 18th century had an absolute veto (Latin: liberum veto); as a result, legislation could only be passed unanimously. Originally, the procedure was used for technical issues such as points of order, but as diverging interests discovered they could disrupt their opponents' agenda singlehandedly, the process came to be abused. Today, the expression is mostly used to describe an assembly that is too easy for minorities or individuals to disrupt and/or has too many parties present for meaningful and orderly debate and decision-making to take place.
The expression is found in several European languages, including all Scandinavian languages:
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