The quality of democracy depends to a high degree on the extent to which citizens are willing or able to take part in the process of governing. There are many diff erent channels available for participation, ranging from the conventional to the unconventional, but no guarantees that people will want to use them. Two points will become clear in this chapter. First, the quantity and the quality of participation vary not only between regime types but also within individual countries over time and among diff erent social groups. Even in democracies, rates of participation are far from equal. Second, even as the variety of forms of participation expands, many people still choose not to express themselves, or are poorly informed about the issues at stake. In authoritarian systems, of course, their views and opinions are not usually entertained to begin with.
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