Liberal Democrats have accused Prime Minister David Cameron of scuppering plans to allow voters to get rid of MPs who misbehave.
The coalition agreement of 2010 included a promise of early legislation to introduce a "power of recall" allowing voters to force their MP to face a by-election by raising a petition of 10% of constituents.
But the Lib Dems said that Mr Cameron has now blocked a bill to create a recall power from inclusion in the final Queen's Speech of the Parliament.
If no bill is included in the Speech, expected in May, there is virtually no chance of it becoming law before the UK goes to the polls for next year's general election.
The coalition agreement sealed by Mr Cameron and Lib Dem Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg in the wake of the inconclusive 2010 election included a promise on recall in response to widespread voter discontent about the House of Commons' expenses scandal.
The agreement stated: " We will bring forward early legislation to introduce a power of recall, allowing voters to force a by-election where an MP is found to have engaged in serious wrong-doing and having had a petition calling for a by-election signed by 10% of his or her constituents."
But Lib Dem president Tim Farron told BBC Radio 4's Today programme: "We understand that the Prime Minister has blocked it. Nick Clegg wanted it in the Queen's Speech, which would have meant that there was a bill there that we could have discussed which would have meant that MPs guilty of wrongdoing could be recalled.
"That would have been a positive step in the right direction. It seems very wrong to me that an MP can be in position for the five years of a Parliament, get up to things which all of us would agree are inappropriate and be in a position where they would not be able to be held to account during that time.
"That's the basic, modest proposal that was agreed in the coalition agreement and there's no obvious excuse or good reason for David Cameron to block that vote now, but that is what he has done."
Mr Farron added: "It looks as though certain MPs are running scared of their electorate. We should never be scared of our electorate. We should always believe that we have our positions as a temporary offering, a position that we are given by voters for a period of time in order to serve them, and that is something they can take away.
"They can obviously take it away in an election, but there should also be a process - as some other countries have - during that five-year period where an MP can be recalled and forced to stand before their electorate again in a by-election.
"What it looks like to the electorate is that MPs are trying to protect themselves against them, and that's not on."
Tory MP Zac Goldsmith, who has led calls for recall powers that go further than the Government's now-ditched proposals, was furious at the Lib Dems for blaming the Conservatives.
He took to Twitter to vent his anger: "Clegg told me he couldn't back a proper Recall Bill (despite his manifesto promise) because MPs might actually be sacked.
"Now in typical LibDem fashion, Clegg is briefing that the Tories have ditched recall (his department is supposed to be delivering it)."
He added: "Even by the shitty standards of dishonest UK politics, the LibDems really are revolting. I cannot understand why anyone supports them."
Urging the Prime Minister to act, he wrote: " If David Cameron has a backbone, he will slam Clegg's sleazy pretence that he's been trying to get recall through - & then do it himself."