Briefing from ROAPE Volume 32 Number 104/5
Ethiopian Election of 2005: A Bombshell & Turning Point?
Ethiopia's parliamentary election in May 2005 was a spectacular event in the country's political annals as the opposition2 captured nearly 50% of parliamentary seats.3 Two competing interpretations aimed at assessing the significance of the results have emerged. One scenario posits that international pressure has finally forced the regime to relax some of its controls on the political process and permit democratic expression of views. An amalgam of ethnicist opposition forces, many international institutions that supported and monitored the election, and others have endorsed this proposition. A second submission asserts that the political strategy TPLF-dominated regime pursued, which allowed different ethnic communities to govern themselves within the context of the federal constitution, is slowly but steadily maturing. This, most recent election, they allege, has vindicated the government's efforts during the past decade. Hence, the Ethiopian Prime Minister's declaration that he 'is proud to have introduced democracy to Ethiopia.' Both theses contain important elements of truth, however, they fail to grasp the event's significance for the future in the context of the country's oppressive and sectarian political history.