Political Behavior

, Volume 41, Issue 3, pp 657–675 | Cite as

Do Constraints Limit Opportunism? Incumbent Electoral Performance Before and After (Partially) Fixed-Term Laws

  • Stephen E. White
  • Christopher AlcantaraEmail author
Original Paper


Over the last two decades, a number of Westminster parliamentary countries have adopted fixed or partially fixed election dates in response to growing public concerns about the ability of First Ministers to unfairly manipulate the timing of elections. Do First Ministers and their political parties gain an electoral advantage by controlling the timing of elections? Does that advantage disappear after the introduction of legislation constraining opportunistic election timing? We address these questions by analyzing and comparing 37 years of election results in eight Canadian provinces prior and subsequent to the passage of election timing legislation. Our evidence suggests that critics of the election timing power may be justified in calling for limits to this discretionary power.


Opportunistic election timing Incumbency advantage Political surfing Electoral success Fixed election dates 


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Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Political ScienceCarleton UniversityOttawaCanada
  2. 2.Department of Political ScienceThe University of Western OntarioLondonCanada

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