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The Micro-Foundations of Party Competition and Issue Ownership: The Reciprocal Effects of Citizens’ Issue Salience and Party Attachments

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  06 April 2016


While previous research on the reciprocal effects of citizens’ issue attitudes and their party support emphasize citizens’ issue positions, political competition revolves equally around issue salience – that is, debates over which issue areas political parties should prioritize. Using multi-wave panel survey data from Germany and Great Britain, this study analyzes the reciprocal effects of citizens’ issue salience and their party support, and concludes that citizens’ issue priorities both influence and are influenced by their party attachments and, moreover, that these effects are linked to parties’ long-term associative issue ownership. This effect is strongest among supporters of a small issue-orientated niche party, the German Greens.

© Cambridge University Press 2016 

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School of Politics and International Relations, University of Nottingham (email:; Department of Political Science, University of California, Davis (email: The authors greatly appreciate the advice and comments of BJPS Editor Robert Johns and the anonymous reviewers. They also wish to acknowledge advice or feedback from Debra Leiter, Sergi Pardos-Prado, Romain Lachat and Markus Wagner. They further acknowledge helpful feedback from seminar and conference participants at the University of Oxford, Pompeu Fabra University, and the 2014 meetings of the European Political Science Association (in Edinburgh, UK) and the American Political Science Association (Washington, DC, USA). Online appendices are available at, and data replication sets are available at The data used in this article cannot be deposited online, but are freely available to registered users. The data of the German Socio-Economic Panel can be requested via We use version 24 (DOI: 10.5684/soep.v24). The data of the British Household Panel Study can be requested via


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