Discomfiture of democracy? The 2005 election crisis in Ethiopia and its aftermath

TitleDiscomfiture of democracy? The 2005 election crisis in Ethiopia and its aftermath
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2006
AuthorsG.J. Abbink
Secondary TitleAfrican affairs
Pagination173 - 199
Date Published2006///
Publication Languageeng
Keywords2005, Africa, Democratization, elections, Ethiopia, politics

In this article, the author assesses the nature and the impact of the May 2005 Ethiopian parliamentary elections on Ethiopian politics. The elections, although controversial and flawed, showed significant gains for the opposition but led to a crisis of the entire democratization process. The author revisits Ethiopian political culture in the light of neopatrimonial theory and asks why the political system has stagnated and slid back into authoritarianism. Most analyses of post-1991 Ethiopian politics discuss the formal aspects of the political system but do not pay sufficient attention to power politics in a historical perspective. There is a continued need to reconceptualize the analysis of politics in Ethiopia, and Africa in general, in more cultural and historical terms, away from the formal political science approaches that have predominated. The success of transitional democracy is also dependent on a countervailing middle class, which is suppressed in Ethiopia. Furthermore, political-judicial institutions are still precarious, and their operation is dependent on the current political elite and caught in the politics of the ruling party. On the basis of the electoral process, the post-election manoeuvring, the role of opposition forces, and the violent crisis in late 2005, the author addresses the Ethiopian political process in the light of governance traditions and resurrected neopatrimonial rule that, in effect, tend to block further democratization. Bibliogr., notes, ref., sum. (Comment by Tobias Hagmann: in African Affairs, vol. 105, no. 421 (2006), p. 605-612, with a reply by Abbink on p. 613-620.) [Journal abstract]

IR handle/ Full text URLhttp://hdl.handle.net/1887/9551
Citation Key1951