Serbia's president has formally dissolved Parliament and scheduled an early parliamentary election for March 16.

President Tomislav Nikolic says the vote will secure wider popular support for economic and social reforms in the troubled Balkan country.

The vote is expected to cement the right-wing populist Serbian Progressive Party's grip on power. The party is the most popular in the country and its leader, Aleksandar Vucic, is deputy prime minister in the country's coalition government.

Vucic, who is likely to replace Socialist leader Ivica Dacic as the premier after the vote, has said he wants to speed up painful reforms so Serbia can advance its bid to join the 28-nation European Union.