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Changing Issue Ownership through Policy Communication

Journal article
Authors Stefan Dahlberg
Johan Martinsson
Published in West European Politics
Volume 38
Issue 4
Pages 817-838
ISSN 0140-2382
Publication year 2015
Published at Department of Political Science
Pages 817-838
Language en
Keywords ELECTIONS, CAMPAIGNS, CHOICE, AGENDA, Political Science, LITIQUEWorld Congress of the International-Political-Science-Association, AUG 02-06, 2000, QUEBEC
Subject categories Political Science


Issue ownership has been an important concept in the analysis of party competition for several decades. Traditionally, issue ownership has been regarded as a stable phenomenon where parties are advantaged by different political issues. However, several recent studies have reported change in voters' perceptions of parties' issue ownership. To investigate the changeability of issue ownership and how it can be altered, this article investigates the impact of parties' communication attempts through a web-based survey in Sweden. Two major political issues are in focus: employment and healthcare. The results show that parties can indeed improve their ownership by communicating on an issue. Indications were also found that the effects decrease as other parties simultaneously communicate on the same issue, and when those who receive the messages are ideologically distant from the party. However, in several cases results are weak. Many important conditionalities therefore remain to be explored in future studies.

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