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Jo Saglie, "A Struggle for the Agenda? Norwegian Parties and the European Issue, 1989-1995," Party Politics, 4 (July 1998), 347-366.

First Paragraph:
The assumed 'crisis of party' plays a prominent role in the literature on political parties. Several countries have experienced 'landslide elections', the erosion of traditional party loyalties, the entrance of new issues onto the political agenda and a more independent role for the mass media. Nevertheless, turbulent environments do not automatically produce a 'crisis of party'. Parties are not merely reflections of social cleavages; they 'might establish themselves as significant poles of attraction and produce their own alignments independently of the geographical, the social, and the cultural underpinnings of the movements' (Lipset and Rokkan, 1967: 3). Old parties continue to dominate elections in Western Europe, but their struggle for survival may be getting harder. The party elites' strategic choices have presumably become more important.

Figures and Tables:
Table 1: Official party positions on EU-related issues
Table 2: Percentages of party programmes (1989 and 1993) concerning the EU and external relations in general
Table 3: EU-related Question Time questions (1989-95), by party
Figure 1: Questions in parliament (1989-95): EU-related questions as percentage of all questions, by party and session
Table 4: EU-related contributions to the 1993 NRK party leader debate, by participant

Last Paragraph:
The findings also point to some problematic features of saliency theory. According to Budge and Farlie (1983: 269), 'politicians are able to ignore each other because, unlike opposing generals, they do not ... have to fight at the same time and in the same place'. Certainly, politicians may steer voters' attention towards their parties' favourite issues while avoiding unpleasant topics. Party leaders have developed considerable skills in this kind of agenda influencing. On the other hand, journalists emphasize con-flicts and create confrontations. Originally highly influenced by political parties, the mass media are today independent actors. The prime minister cannot avoid criticism of government policies when confronting journalists and political opponents in televised debates. Cabinet ministers must also defend their policies during Question Time. In short, the leaders of the ruling party are not free to choose the subjects that will be debated. Smaller parties may avoid divisive issues more easily, as illustrated by Hagen's minimal mention of the EU issue. However, smaller parties may face difficulties when they want to put an issue on the agenda. While they may easily talk about their favourite conflicts, their problem is to obtain media coverage, to attract an audience. The outcome of a party's agenda-setting efforts may depend on complex interaction between several factors, such as the reactions of the other parties, events outside the political sphere, and the selection of issues and events in the mass media.