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Economy, Type of Government, and Strategic Timing of Elections: Calling Opportunistic Early Elections in OECD Democracies

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journal contribution
posted on 08.10.2015 by Pedro Riera

Although mainstream models of accountability assume that the election date is exogenously fixed, in almost any parliamentary democracy governments may choose it. This article proposes a theory of the strategic timing of elections that highlights the role of the economy and the type of government. First, incumbents will call early elections when the economy is growing and inflation rates are low. Nevertheless, coalition and majority governments will fall short of the ability and the incentives to do so, respectively. As a result, the effect of the state of the economy on the opportunistic dissolution of the parliament will be stronger when there is only one party in government, and it lacks a majority in the lower house. These patterns are examined by using data from 21 Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development democracies between 1945 and 2010.