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Changes and Fluctuations in Issue Ownership: The Case of Sweden, 1979–2010

Journal article
Authors Love Christensen
Stefan Dahlberg
Johan Martinsson
Published in Scandinavian Political Studies
Volume 38
Issue 2
Pages 137–157
ISSN 0080-6757
Publication year 2015
Published at Department of Political Science
Pages 137–157
Language en
Subject categories Political Science


Issue ownership (IO) is an important concept in the analysis of party behaviour, party strategy and party competition for several decades. More recently, it has also been of growing interest to research on voting behaviour. Traditionally, IO has been regarded as a stable phenomenon where parties have different profiles and are advantaged by different political issues or issueareas. However, recently many studies have reported change and fluctuations concerning IO, and the same studies also makes it clear that we know surprisingly little about what might cause, or facilitate, change in issue ownership. In fact, we do not even have systematic studies of how stable issue ownership usually is, or how frequent clear shifts in issue ownership actually are.The aim of this article is to explore the extent of change and stability in issue ownership in Sweden. For this purpose, the Swedish national election studies from 1979 to 2010 are utilised. Hence, in light of more recent research that has delivered some tentative indications of that changes in issue ownership have increased over time, this is nothing that is supported in the Swedish case. Instead, issue ownership seems never to have been a particularly stable phenomenon in general. Moreover, these results demonstrate that the ownership in economic issues are more volatile compared to others kind of issues, something which is well in line with the theoretical expectations outlined in the article since performance issues should be more sensitive to changes in voter evaluations.

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