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Published online by Cambridge University Press:  21 November 2011

Robin Harding*
New York University,


Intuitively it would seem that choice is important for democracy. Yet the empirical question, whether people actually do value facing distinct platforms when they vote, remains open. In this paper I seek to remedy that situation by systematically addressing the question using cross-national survey data. Specifically, I investigate whether satisfaction with democracy depends on the number and/or the substance of the choices that are available to people when they vote. The analysis offers strong support for the idea that what matters most to voters is the substance of electoral choices. Although the number of choices also matters, the significance of this factor is conditional on being able to vote for a party that represents one's views, or on voting for the winner.

Copyright © Cambridge University Press 2011

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