Skip to main content

Study finds Ethiopians putting trust in leaders than institutions

A research conducted by Afro Barometer, “a non-partisan, pan-African research institution conducting public attitude surveys on democracy, governance, the economy and society,” indicated that leaders are more trusted in Ethiopia than institutions. Accordingly, PM Abiy Ahmed has received the highest approval rates from leaders and the Ethiopian Defense Forces got highest rates from institutions.

The new study presented for discussion on Friday over a Zoom webinar, showed that the researchers found out that two thirds of Ethiopians approve of Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed’s performance in office and 31 percent of Ethiopians disapproved of the PM’s performance in office.

The National Defense Forces has the trust of 45 percent of Ethiopians, with the numbers for the Police, the ruling party, the courts of law, local government councils, tax authority, Electoral Board, Parliament and opposition political parties stand at 24 percent, 22 percent, 20 percent, 18 percent, 15 percent, 15 percent, 15 percent, and 7 percent, respectively.

Among the 2,400 respondents to the research program, 51 percent approve of their parliamentarians’ works, 55 percent approved the local government councilors and 85 percent approved the performances of traditional leaders.

In terms of doing “a good job”, 51 percent of the respondents said they believe MPs are doing well while 55 percent said their local council representatives are doing a good job. In terms of this measurement, traditional leaders have received 85 percent of the approval rates.

This finding which depended on data gathered from 2,400 samples selected on random walk pattern, indicated that religious and traditional leaders have greater popular trust with approvals of 75 percent and 62 percent of respondents, respectively.

“Only about one in 10 Ethiopians say that MPs (9 percent) and local government councilors (12 percent) “often” or “always” do their best to listen to their constituencies. More than half (52 percent) say traditional leaders do,” the study presented.

In terms of trusting institutions and leaders, 36 percent of the respondents said that they do not trust the opposition political parties at all, while 21 percent said the same for the parliament. Similarly, 21 percent responded they do not trust the National Electoral Board of Ethiopia at all. In addition, 19 percent said the same for the tax authority, and the local government councils; 18 percent for the courts of law, 20 percent for the ruling party, 18 percent for the Prime Minister, 13 percent for the National Defense Forces, six percent for the traditional leaders and five percent for the religious leaders.

According to Mulu Teka, National Partner for Afro Barometer, the sampling questions and replies have been collected using a tablet computer, programed to last longer than three minutes so that data collectors won’t manipulate it. The computer also records the audios of interview sessions and sends the data directly to a server linked with the University of Cape Town.

Thomas Tadesse, a Senior Researcher from Abcon Research and Consulting firm also indicated that the research has involved ordinary Ethiopians who are not necessarily engaged in any research or activities related to the research ideas.

Commenting on the methodology, Yonas Ashine (PhD), a professor of Political Science and International Relations at the Addis Ababa University, said that the probability for every citizen to get involved in the research was commendable. But he criticized that the traditional leaders’ roles in politics is minimal and it should not have been included in the research.

“In general, there are 28 research questions among which 14 focus on modern and 14 on traditional institutions and leaders. In this regard, the main focus was on the traditional institutions which pose the question whether this emanates from of the study’s view of the Ethiopian politics or is just by accident,” he commented.

He added that, according to the research, leaders are trusted rather than institutions and this should have been analyzed based on its pros and cons for the nation’s political culture.

Yonas also commented on the disproportionate representation of religion in the study. According to the sample description, Christians account for 63 percent of the sample size and Muslims accounted 36 percent; one percent fall in the “other” category.

Mulu in his part argued that this has occurred not by design and it is a random result as the data collectors learn about the religious affiliation of their respondents later on visiting them.