So far we have defined democracies as political systems in which important decisions of public policy depend, even if only indirectly and at one remove, on public opinion. However, this definition implicitly leaves one major question unanswered. How should we define the relevant public? Clearly, it is possible to define the public narrowly or broadly, with quite different implications for our understanding of the character of the political system. This is the problem of inclusion. Robert Dahl (1989, p. 119), who more than any democratic theorist has drawn attention to this problem, points out both that the issue of inclusion is central to our understanding of democracy and that relatively little attention has been paid to it. Thus, ancient Athens is typically called a democracy, but women, slaves and metics (resident aliens) were excluded from the rights of citizenship. The exclusion of such a large proportion of the population might lead someone, with good reason, to withhold the name of democracy from the system. Similarly, up to the time that Switzerland gave the vote to women in 1971, we might want to say that it was not a democracy, despite its extensive participationist practices and system of proportional representation.
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