Which party should govern Ethiopia today?
In a nation that thrived in a narrow political spectrum for the last four decades, the job of widening the political space must have been done with due care. The political space was supposed to be widened gradually according to the capacity of the nation. But Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed (PhD) did it spontaneously.
The Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) is a subject that is complicating the political system in a widened political space.
Yet Prime Minister Abiy has a constitutional power to dissolve narrow nationalist political groups for unconstitutionality.
The nation is an impoverished one to the extent of being unable for its food security.
Having said these, the priority of politicians ought to be uniting the divided nation and taking the right economic reforms. In a nation with no democratic experience, there should not take place an experiment in this regard.
In addition, there is a dearth of institutions. In a democracy, the civil services play an extremely important role in the administration, policy formulation and implementation, and in taking the country forward towards progress and development. But we do not have a viable civil service here in Ethiopia.
On top of this, we do not have an informed society above everything. What is worse is that the opposition has failed to form a solidarity that can be an alternative to the people. Rather it is fragmented which is creating an inconvenience for democracy. As a result, it seems there is no opposition that can handle power properly if elected. There is no other viable alternative political party that can handle power in Ethiopia where there are multiple of problems from inside and outside. In my opinion, Prosperity Party is the only option that is capable and moderate.
As a result, it seems clear that maintaining the ruling party is in the national interests of Ethiopia as it is responding to the timely issues in the national agenda.
Amazingly, we do not have an ideologically divided society. We need to create a largely middle class society for this purpose.
Another challenge for democracy in Ethiopia is the diversity in the society.
For instance, William Flax, in his book entitled ‘Democracy in the Third World’, argues that “in order to understand why imposing democracy on impoverished third world nations is such a truly bad and destructive idea, one needs to understand both the dynamics of democracy and that of the third world populations, economies and cultures”.
Consequently, he lists the essential prerequisites of democracy that the third world like Ethiopia lacks – prosperity, an intelligent electorate, a largely middle-class society, adequate penetration of functional education and a long tradition of participation. He then suggests that the suitability of democracy for any people, at any given time, is directly proportional to the presence or absence of these factors.
Unfortunately, many of these factors do not exist in Ethiopia. As a result, given the existing realities of the nation, it is risky and not advisable to impose democracy in Ethiopia. At least, we cannot predict its result.
The existence of weak media outlets which fall short of informing the public is another factor that is lacking in Ethiopia’s effort in building democracy. And there is a constant flow of disinformation and hate speech to the society through social media outlets.
More importantly, capitalism has failed due to various reasons in Ethiopia.
For these reasons, I strongly believe that we need to build our democracy on a strong and unshakable base. Hence, we need a cultural revolution in advance.
The solutions for the heightened ethnic consciousness in the society are education, development and a campaign on Ethiopianness.
A change of government in Ethiopia is unnecessary at this given moment in time. Our unity is our strength.
Ethiopia was standing on the edge of precipice before the reform. Thus we should not return to those troubled days due to an imposition of an untimely democracy.
In every way, the ruling Prosperity Party has to remain in power during the transition period.
Despite all these hindering factors, Abiy is rushing to democracy in a nation that is not prepared for it. Certainly, he will be held responsible for everything that goes wrong due to his mistaken imposition of democracy.
The paradox about democracy is that it is the freedom of the people but we do not have a democratic political system here in Ethiopia.
Besides, everyone has a natural desire to enjoy the virtues of democracy. But if initiations towards it would end up in empowering narrow nationalists it is better to delay it, I believe. We need to build a democratic political system first.
The party has started uniting the divided nation and taking the required economic reforms. It needs sufficient time to accomplish these goals. And more importantly it is aggressively working on both democracy and development. Ethiopia does not have any other alternative other than keeping the ruling party in power as it is solving the problems of the nation. There is an equally demanding interest for peace as good as democracy.
Thus, Prosperity Party is the right answer for Ethiopia’s problems. These are the reasons why I believe that the party should govern Ethiopia during the current transition period.
Ed.’s Note: The views expressed in this article do not necessarily reflect the views of The Reporter. The writer can be reached at [email protected]
Contributed by Tagel Getahun