Nepal experienced three major political systems in the last seven decades: the multiparty political system (1958–1961 and 1990–2007), the panchayat political system (1961–1990) and the federalist political system (2007 onwards). Each political system carried its own political philosophy, claiming to inscribe participatory democracy at its core. The research is designed as an in-country comparative case study, taking three key political systems as its units of analysis. It asks how did ordinary people participate in the polity and politics of such diverse yet frequently changing political systems in Nepal? Interpreted from a participatory governance perspective, the research finds that citizen participation in public decision-making apparatuses has been transcending significantly over the last seven decades, yet ordinary people with no political affiliation have been facing difficulty in influencing decisions that affect them.