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valence issue


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An issue that is uniformly liked or disliked among the electorate, as opposed to a position issue on which opinion is divided. Corruption is a classic example of a valence issue; parties associated with corruption tend to be unpopular. Whilst all parties will claim to be virtuous and effective, parties do choose to emphasize particular issues over others (see also saliency theory). Similarly, parties can develop reputations for (in)competence in particular areas. The idea that valence issues are important for understanding electoral success is a challenge to the theory of spatial competition, which depends on the relevance of position issues. However, valence issues can become position issues once specific policies are proposed to deal with a commonly recognized problem. For example, unemployment is uniformly seen as bad, but there are important differences of opinion on how it should be tackled.

Stephen Fisher

SF

Subjects: Politics.


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