I propose and test an informational theory of endogenous election timing. I assume leaders have more accurate estimates of future outcomes than citizens. The prospect of declining future performance spurs leaders to call early elections. Since leaders condition their timing decisions on their expectations of future performance, early elections signal a leader's lack of confidence in future outcomes. The earlier elections occur, relative to expectations, the stronger the signal of demise. Using data on British parliaments since 1945, I test hypotheses relating the timing of elections, electoral support and subsequent economic performance. As predicted, leaders who call elections early, relative to expectations, experience a decline in their popular support relative to pre-announcement levels.
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