While democratization is often seen as a national-level process, we argue that there is important scope for local effects. Through analysis of Mexican public opinion data collected on the eve of that country's historic 2000 elections, we demonstrate that local context greatly affects evaluations of the legitimacy of the system, and these evaluations, in turn, help to shape the willingness of citizens to engage with the system. Citizens are more willing to participate in politics if they think the process is fair, and direct evidence of the fairness of the system is provided by the local political context. This local connection, then, becomes critical in the process of individuals becoming, in Almond and Verba's classic term, “participatory” citizens (1963).