Regulation of political participation score

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What you should know about this indicator

Indicator name: parreg

Regulation of Participation: Participation is regulated to the extent that there are binding rules on when, whether, and how political preferences are expressed. One-party states and Western democracies both regulate participation but they do so in different ways, the former by channeling participation through a single party structure, with sharp limits on diversity of opinion; the latter by allowing relatively stable and enduring groups to compete nonviolently for political influence. The polar opposite is unregulated participation, in which there are no enduring national political organizations and no effective regime controls on political activity. In such situations political competition is fluid and often characterized by recurring coercion among shifting coalitions of partisan groups. A five-category scale is used to code this dimension:

(1) Unregulated: Political participation is fluid; there are no enduring national political organizations and no systematic regime controls on political activity. Political groupings tend to form around particular leaders, regional interests, religious or ethnic or clan groups, etc.; but the number and relative importance of such groups in national political life varies substantially over time.

(2) Multiple Identity: There are relatively stable and enduring political groups which compete for political influence at the national level–parties, regional groups, or ethnic groups, not necessarily elected–but there are few, recognized overlapping (common) interests.

(3) Sectarian: Political demands are characterized by incompatible interests and intransigent posturing among multiple identity groups and oscillate more or less regularly between intense factionalism and government favoritism, that is, when one identity group secures central power it favors group members in central allocations and restricts competing groups' political activities, until it is displaced in turn (i.e., active factionalism). Also coded here are polities in which political groups are based on restricted membership and significant portions of the population historically have been excluded from access to positions of power (latent factionalism, e.g., indigenous peoples in some South American countries).

(4) Restricted: Some organized political participation is permitted without intense factionalism but significant groups, issues, and/or types of conventional participation are regularly excluded from the political process.

(5) Regulated: Relatively stable and enduring political groups regularly compete for political influence and positions with little use of coercion. No significant groups, issues, or types of conventional political action are regularly excluded from the political process.

Regulation of political participation score
Indicates the extent to which political participation is regulated, ranging from highly unstable political participation (score of 1), over political participation with multiple identities (score of 2), sectarian political participation (score of 3), and restricted political participation (score of 4), to unrestricted and stable political participation (score of 5).
Polity 5 (2020) – processed by Our World in Data
Last updated
May 13, 2024
Next expected update
May 2025
Date range

Sources and processing

This data is based on the following sources

The Polity5 project continues the Polity research tradition of coding the authority characteristics of states in the world system for purposes of comparative, quantitative analysis. The original Polity conceptual scheme was formulated and the initial Polity I data collected under the direction of Ted Robert Gurr and informed by foundational, collaborative work with Harry Eckstein, Patterns of Authority: A Structural Basis for Political Inquiry (New York: John Wiley & Sons, 1975). The Polity project has proven its value to researchers over the years, becoming the most widely used resource for monitoring regime change and studying the effects of regime authority. The Polity project evolved through three earlier research phases, all under the direction of Ted Gurr. The Polity III phase updated core Polity data through 1992 and was later updated through 1998 and released as the Polity98 version. Through its evolution, the format of the Polity data has been transformed from its original focus on “persistence and change” in the “polity” as the unit of analysis (i.e., politycase format) to its present country-year case format. The original Polity I format was revisited by a research team under the direction of Nils Petter Gleditsch and information concerning the dates of coded polity changes was updated in 1994 and made available in the original polity-case format as Polity IIId. In the late 1990s, Polity became a core data project in the State Failure Task Force global forecasting project. The special focus on “state failure” problem events within a general context of societal and systemic development processes requires information pertinent to both Polity foci, state continuity and change (country-year format) and regime persistence and change (polity-case format), be combined in a single data resource base. The Polity IV combined format version was instituted with the 2000 data update.

Retrieved on
May 13, 2024
This is the citation of the original data obtained from the source, prior to any processing or adaptation by Our World in Data. To cite data downloaded from this page, please use the suggested citation given in Reuse This Work below.
Marshall, Monty G. and Ted Robert Gurr. 2020. Polity 5: Political Regime Characteristics and Transitions, 1800-2018. Center for Systemic Peace.

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Notes on our processing step for this indicator

Values -66, -77 and -88 are recoded as missing (NAs), as per the rules on page 17 of the Polity 5 codebook.

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To cite this page overall, including any descriptions, FAQs or explanations of the data authored by Our World in Data, please use the following citation:

“Data Page: Regulation of political participation score”, part of the following publication: Bastian Herre, Lucas Rodés-Guirao, Esteban Ortiz-Ospina and Max Roser (2013) - “Democracy”. Data adapted from Polity 5. Retrieved from [online resource]
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Polity 5 (2020) – processed by Our World in Data

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Polity 5 (2020) – processed by Our World in Data. “Regulation of political participation score” [dataset]. Polity 5, “Polity5 Project, Political Regime Characteristics and Transitions, 1800-2018 5” [original data]. Retrieved July 23, 2024 from