Issue news and electoral volatility: A comparative analysis of media effects during the 1994 election campaigns in Germany and the Netherlands

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Abstract

This article shows that issue coverage in the media partly explains both the political landslide at the 1994 elections in the Netherlands and the political continuity in the 1994 elections in Germany. Theories of issue voting guided the research. Issue ownership theory maintains that voters will remember which party has the best record of solving problems in emphasized issue areas. Proximity models and directional models suggest that voters' own issue positions will be compared to the perceived issue positions of parties. A longitudinal content analysis of ten newspapers and five television news programmes was performed to ascertain selective issue emphasis and the issue positions attributed to parties. Election outcomes and weekly opinion polls were used to measure the volatility of the vote.

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