Serbia's President Tomislav Nikolic called an early selection for April 24, announcing the election date with a statement broadcast, live on state-operated RTS TV.
Serbia's government asked the president to dissolve parliament and call an early election on Thursday, after Prime Minister, Aleksandar Vucic, said he needed a fresh mandate to pursue reforms and complete talks on joining the European Union.
"The time has come to re-examine the support for reforms painful for many citizens," Nikolic said after signing a decree to dissolve the parliament.
The ruling Serbian Progressive Party (SNS) is well ahead in opinion polls, putting Vucic on track to win a second term.
Once an ultra-nationalist disciple of the "Greater Serbia" ideology that fuelled the wars of federal Yugoslavia's bloody disintegration in the 1990s, Vucic has since rebranded himself as a pro-European moderniser.
Asking Nikolic -who is from the same party- to dissolve parliament, the government said in a statement that it needed "a clear mandate for the completion of the reforms to enable our country to reach the entrance of the European family of nation."
The SNS has 158 seats in the 250-seat parliament. Critics say it is seeking to exploit its high poll ratings before the more painful effects of reforms such as public sector layoffs kick in.
Investors appear to believe a future SNS government would pursue reforms pledged under a 1.2 billion euro loan deal with the International Monetary Fund. However, there are risks that an election campaign could delay reforms needed to curb public debt, which now stands at 75 percent of national output.