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Central Committee Election Hoopla in Ethiopia Incompatible with Parliamentary Democracy

By Haile Tessema
Tigrai Online, Oct. 1, 2018


People, particularly those active in the social media, have been caught up with the current election process of Central Committee members. Many gave their advice that veteran political leaders should quit to give way to new blood. Some specifically suggested who should be out and who should be in. Others went as far as warning how hell would break loose if the election didn’t go the way they believe it should.

This raises the question, why is this vitally important? After all, it’s not entirely about electing a leader who will carry the party in the next election. Rather, about party members. And why are these party members crucial?

The role of a political party in parliamentary democracy is to select from existing or prospective politicians who would win seats for the party in parliament; develop a political platform and public policy; design election strategy; prepare election materials such as leaflets, posters and banners; seek the support of volunteers; solicit public support and organize debates and election campaigns; take a disciplinary action against candidates or MPs who go against party ideals or policy, etc.

As a result, in parliamentary democracy, the kind of attention, political enthusiasm, concern or fear we currently are witnessing is given to candidates running for regional or national parliamentary seats during elections.

Yet, the opposite appears to be the case in Ethiopia. Parliamentary elections are not as interesting and not much of a concern about their result. While parties put forward candidates they consider the best for party central committee and polit bureau membership, someone with physical ability to sit for a long period of time; listen or half listen; raise his/her hand to vote, and put his/her hands together to clap is good enough for winning a parliamentary seat.

So, all said and done, what is at issue is – while confessing to be a parliamentary democracy – a communist-like top down, autocratic vanguard political party at work. And the outcome of that is:


  1. The absence of true representative democracy;
  2. Top party officials and kingmakers to have things their way;
  3. Allowing backroom deals /aka networking/ to flourish;
  4. Crowning a group of solely unelected politicians to make important policy decisions;
  5. Parliament being subordinate to a political party;
  6. Blurredness between party and government.

Thus, it’s about time to either move to genuine parliamentary democracy or adhere to communist political structure by dissolving parliament, thereby replacing it with party congress. Failing that, continue to be hoodwinked or get confused by two entirely different political systems.



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