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Success and failure in electoral competition: Selective issue emphasis under incomplete issue ownership

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  • Geys, Benny

Abstract

Political parties are often argued to compete for voters by stressing issues they feel they own - a strategy known as 'selective emphasis'. While usually seen as an electorally rewarding strategy, this article argues that cultivating your themes in the public debate is not guaranteed to be electorally beneficial and may even become counter-productive. It describes the conditions under which 'selective emphasis' becomes counter-productive, and applies the argument to recent discussions regarding the strategies of mainstream parties confronting the extreme right.

Suggested Citation

  • Geys, Benny, 2012. "Success and failure in electoral competition: Selective issue emphasis under incomplete issue ownership," Discussion Papers, Research Professorship & Project "The Future of Fiscal Federalism" SP II 2012-102, Social Science Research Center Berlin (WZB).
  • Handle: RePEc:zbw:wzbfff:spii2012102
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    1. repec:cup:apsrev:v:99:y:2005:i:03:p:347-359_05 is not listed on IDEAS
    2. Philip Jones & John Hudson, 1998. "The role of political parties: An analysis based on transaction costs," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 94(1), pages 175-189, January.
    3. Anthony Downs, 1957. "An Economic Theory of Political Action in a Democracy," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 65, pages 135-135.
    4. Andersen, Jørgen Juel & Fiva, Jon H. & Natvik, Gisle James, 2014. "Voting when the stakes are high," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 110(C), pages 157-166.
    5. Tim Bale & Christoffer Green-Pedersen & André Krouwel & Kurt Richard Luther & Nick Sitter, 2010. "If You Can't Beat Them, Join Them? Explaining Social Democratic Responses to the Challenge from the Populist Radical Right in Western Europe," Political Studies, Political Studies Association, vol. 58, pages 410-426, June.
    6. repec:cup:apsrev:v:57:y:1963:i:02:p:368-377_24 is not listed on IDEAS
    7. Geys, Benny & Vermeir, Jan, 2008. "Party cues and yardstick voting," European Journal of Political Economy, Elsevier, vol. 24(2), pages 470-477, June.
    8. Sides, John, 2006. "The Origins of Campaign Agendas," British Journal of Political Science, Cambridge University Press, vol. 36(03), pages 407-436, July.
    9. Jane Green, 2007. "When Voters and Parties Agree: Valence Issues and Party Competition," Political Studies, Political Studies Association, vol. 55, pages 629-655, October.
    10. Benny Geys, 2006. "'Rational' Theories of Voter Turnout: A Review," Political Studies Review, Political Studies Association, vol. 4(1), pages 16-35.
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    Keywords

    issue salience; issue ownership; party competition;

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