CENTRAL TO THE STUDY OF DEMOCRATIC POLITICS IS THE IDEA of popular control over the activities of elites. More specifically, how can the preferences of citizens be aggregated into a political choice for a government policy or government personnel? Popular control, the effects of citizen participation in political life, is the basis of a major value orientation in the discipline: the notion of participant democracy. The degree of citizen participation becomes the key to the nature of democracry in a society : the more participation, the more democratic the political life of a country becomes. Political participation may take a variety of forms, e.g., running for office, holding office,voting, soliciting votes, and campaigning for, or contributing funds to, I the party of one's choice. However, voting is the most emphasized aspect of citizen participation, since it is the only form of active participation many engage in. The limitations placed on voting as a mechanism for popular control over political choices are well documented. Voters do not choose when to vote, nor the agenda. They have minimal input into the selection of candidates and the choice of issues which divide the parties at elections. Public participation in the selection and resolution of important policy issues between elections is severely restricted.
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