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Agenda setting and political partisanship in an election campaign: Reinforcing and undermining partisan voting intentions
Unformatted Document Text:  7 privatization of industry). The Australian Labor Party, the left-wing faction, is an ideologically progressive (center-left) “workers party”, characterized by values of fairness, social justice, and labor rights. In the lead-up to the 2001 Australian federal election, the Liberal-National Coalition had been in power for two terms, led by the Prime Minister, John Howard. The Labor Opposition was led by Kim Beazley. Early in 2001, Labor won a number of state elections, prompting speculation about a possible Labor win at the federal level. At that time, the local political agenda was characterized by a range of socio-political issues including jobs and unemployment, health, education, economy, and taxation, issues on which the Government had made some unpopular decisions. Then in August 2001, the media gave widespread coverage to the so-called Tampa “crisis” in which the Australian government refused a Norwegian vessel carrying asylum seekers permission to land. Despite international condemnation, the Prime Minister, John Howard, held his ground and did not accept these asylum seekers, a stand which drew a deal of support from the Australian community. One month later, and only four weeks out from the federal election, world attention turned to another significant event, September 11 th and the “war on terror”. Australia’s Prime Minister, John Howard, was in Washington at the time of the attack and benefited from being able to express first-hand reactions to the event. So, in the last few weeks of the election campaign the political agenda was characterized by a new array of issues including defense, security, border protection and “illegal immigrants”, issues that the Prime Minister and his Liberal-National Coalition addressed with confidence. Kim Beazley and his Labor Opposition were more equivocal on these issues, drawing criticism for political indecision and failure to offer considered alternatives. On November 10 th 2001, Australians went to the polls. The conservative Liberal-National Coalition was returned to office and John Howard was re-instated as Prime Minister. The election thus provided an interesting context in which to examine the effects of agenda setting on political thinking and behavior, particularly since the agenda was clearly one that suited or favored one side of politics, that is the conservative side. Method Participants and Design This study comprised a two-wave longitudinal study in which respondents who were eligible to vote in the forthcoming Australian federal election were surveyed two weeks prior to the

Authors: Duck, Julie., Morton, Thomas. and Fortey, Kate.
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privatization of industry). The Australian Labor Party, the left-wing faction, is an ideologically
progressive (center-left) “workers party”, characterized by values of fairness, social justice, and
labor rights.
In the lead-up to the 2001 Australian federal election, the Liberal-National Coalition had
been in power for two terms, led by the Prime Minister, John Howard. The Labor Opposition
was led by Kim Beazley. Early in 2001, Labor won a number of state elections, prompting
speculation about a possible Labor win at the federal level. At that time, the local political
agenda was characterized by a range of socio-political issues including jobs and unemployment,
health, education, economy, and taxation, issues on which the Government had made some
unpopular decisions. Then in August 2001, the media gave widespread coverage to the so-called
Tampa “crisis” in which the Australian government refused a Norwegian vessel carrying
asylum seekers permission to land. Despite international condemnation, the Prime Minister,
John Howard, held his ground and did not accept these asylum seekers, a stand which drew a
deal of support from the Australian community. One month later, and only four weeks out from
the federal election, world attention turned to another significant event, September 11
th
and the
“war on terror”. Australia’s Prime Minister, John Howard, was in Washington at the time of the
attack and benefited from being able to express first-hand reactions to the event. So, in the last
few weeks of the election campaign the political agenda was characterized by a new array of
issues including defense, security, border protection and “illegal immigrants”, issues that the
Prime Minister and his Liberal-National Coalition addressed with confidence. Kim Beazley and
his Labor Opposition were more equivocal on these issues, drawing criticism for political
indecision and failure to offer considered alternatives. On November 10
th
2001, Australians went
to the polls. The conservative Liberal-National Coalition was returned to office and John
Howard was re-instated as Prime Minister. The election thus provided an interesting context in
which to examine the effects of agenda setting on political thinking and behavior, particularly
since the agenda was clearly one that suited or favored one side of politics, that is the
conservative side.
Method
Participants and Design
This study comprised a two-wave longitudinal study in which respondents who were eligible to
vote in the forthcoming Australian federal election were surveyed two weeks prior to the


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