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5 - Government Performance and Oppositions

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  28 September 2017

Jane Green
Affiliation:
University of Manchester
Will Jennings
Affiliation:
University of Southampton
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Summary

This chapter reveals how the public updates their evaluations of the issue handling of governing parties in response to performance on policy. It explores the second concept of competence – performance – following the short-term and more volatile aspect of public opinion in studies of issue ownership. The chapter analyses the degree to which mass publics respond to government performance across a range of policy domains and how they make performance attributions about governing and opposition parties. It reveals asymmetry in the attribution for responsibility of incumbents versus oppositions. For the most part, the analyses show that publics assign responsibility to the party-in-government and are unlikely to trust an opposition party more on an issue as a result of a government failure in terms of policy performance. They also show, however, that asymmetric performance updating only sometimes results in asymmetric reward and punishment voting. Opposition parties frequently benefit at the ballot box from performance deteriorations under a rival party in government. The implications are important for understanding the dynamics of public opinion about performance and their electoral consequences.
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Chapter
Information
The Politics of Competence
Parties, Public Opinion and Voters
, pp. 94 - 136
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2017

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