Valentin Schröder, Christian Stecker
The Temporal Dimension of Issue Competition

Party Politics, 2018: 24, issue 6, pp. 708–718
ISSN: 1354-0688 (print); 1460-3683 (online)

Existing accounts of issue competition have focused on content: What issues do parties choose to compete with. We complement this literature with an account of parties’ choices on when to compete. Conceiving of the object of competition – public attention – as a common-pool resource, we explain the timing of party attempts at acquiring issues as an interdependent process. Outside of election times, parties coordinate their attempts along a tit-for-tat logic. Within election times, they raise rates of their attempts, rendering coordination futile. This especially concerns opposition parties. We test our hypotheses with a novel data set on roll call vote (RCV) requests in the 16 German state parliaments. These parliaments lend themselves to comparative analysis since they are nearly identical in institutional features and political positions of parties, yet diverse as concerns party strength and government participation at any point in time. The data set covers all 4849 RCVs held in 16.968 plenary sessions in the period 1947–2011.