Rowman and Littlefield International

No Substitute for Competence

On the Origins and Consequences of Issue Ownership

By Simon Lanz

3 Reviews

For the first time, this book provides a systematic analysis of the origins and consequences of party competence evaluations. It demonstrates that perceptions of issue-handling competence are universal and independent drivers of the vote choice and that issue voting is not necessarily prerogative of the well informed.

Hardback ISBN: 9781785523441 Release date: Jan 2020
£52.95 €79.43 $80.00
Ebook ISBN: 9781785523458 Release date: Jan 2020
£24.95 €34.95 $38.95

Pages: 156


Issue ownership theory is a tale of two actors. On the one hand, it theorizes how parties compete with each other in their struggle for votes. On the other hand, issue ownership is
about the citizen. It claims that voters are more likely to support a party if they think it is competent to handle issues they care about.

This book provides unique insights into the undertheorized and understudied links between
party competence and the vote. It argues that issue ownership voting (or competence-based voting) consists of three assumptions: First, voters are primarily interested in having
issues handled by a competent party. Unlike in other issue voting models this implies
that voters are reluctant (or unable) to deal with the specificities of the exact solution
to a political problem. Though positional considerations feed into evaluations of party
competence, other factors are important, too. This is reflected by the second assumption,
following which issue handling competence is a subjective preference with various sources.
Third, competence is more decisive in the decision-making process if the voter cares deeply
about the issue. These three assumptions yield the key formula of issue ownership voting:
Voters support the most competent party on the most important issue.

1. Introduction
2. Perspectives on Issue Voting and Issue Ownership Voting
3. The Role of Competence Evaluations in Elections
4. Empirical Framework
5. The Sources of Issue Ownership
6. Issue Ownership Voting
7. Issue Ownership Voting Across Contexts
8. Conclusion

Simon Lanz is Postdoctoral Researcher at the University of Geneva, Switzerland.

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3 Reviews

Simon Lanz’s innovative and important new book offers a comprehensive, cross-national study of issue ownership. His careful, convincing analysis shows where party competence perceptions come from and when and why they matter for how people vote. This study will be essential reading for all those who want to understand how perceptions of competence explain voting decisions and election outcomes.

Markus Wagner, Department of Government, University of Vienna, Austria

This book represents a major contribution to the analysis of how citizens perceive parties’ issue competence, and how these perceptions influence their voting choices. It is theoretically and empirically ambitious, and it demonstrates convincingly that issue competence should be seen as a central factor in the study of electoral competition.

Romain Lachat, Assistant Professor of Political Science, Sciences Po, France

Issue ownership has become an important focus in studies of voting behavior. Its origins and effects, however, are likely to vary across electoral contexts. Simon Lanz shows in his broadly comparative study how parties come to "own'' issues, how this issue ownership affects their vote choices and how these effects depend on the electoral context. Using novel approaches enables Lanz to make a path-breaking contribution to the study of issue ownership.

Simon Hug, Professor of Political Science and International Relations, Université de Genève, Switzerland

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