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Summary of Upcoming Elections
October 2013 [projected]1 2
Ethiopia’s 2013 presidential election comes on the heels of parliamentary contests in 2010. These elections, like many before them, were dominated by the Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF), which took 499 of the 547 Parliamentary seats up for grabs, and all but one of the 1,904 seats nationwide in regional elections. Parties opposed to EPRDF took just 2 seats in Parliament, leading opposition groups to allege that the elections had not been held fairly. In the upcoming elections, however, Ethiopia seeks to elect its third president to follow Girma Wolde-Giorgis, who will be obliged to bow out after two six-year terms. Though no candidates have officially declared their candidacy, the most prominent potential candidate is Olympic gold medalist Haile Gebrselassie, who has publicly discussed the possibility of running for president.3 While the EPRDF is expected to maintain a grip on Ethiopian politics, the opposition appears stronger than it has been in the past. After opposition groups held rare protests in July 2013 over concerns about human rights and the high costs of living, it appears that the presidential race may be more competitive than other elections in Ethiopia’s recent history.4 Summary of Previous Elections Legislative Elections – May 23, 20105 The House of People’s Representatives Population and number of registered voters: 6 Total population: 85,237 ,338 (July 2009 estimated) Registered Voters: 29,170,867 (May 2010)
Results:7 8 Number of Seats (547) 499 24 9 8 3 1 1 1 1
Party Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF) Somali People’s Democratic Party (SPDP) Benishangul-Gumuz People’s Democratic Party (BGPDP) Afar National Democratic Party (ANDP) Gambela People’s Democratic Movement (GPDM) Argoba People’s Democratic Organization (APDO) Harari National League (HNL) Ethiopian Federal Democratic Unity Forum (MEDREK) Independent
Presidential / Prime Minister Elections – October 9, 2007 9 Results: President Girma Wolde-Giorgis has been in power since October 8, 2001 and was reelected by the House of People’s Representatives in 2007 where he received 79% of the vote.10 The acting Prime Minister,
Haile Mariam Desalegn, has been in office since August 20, 2012 following the death of Meles Zenawi.11 The President, as Chief of State, is considered to be largely a symbolic position, as the Prime Minister is both the head of the party and holds most of the discretion over executive power usage in country.12
Major Political Parties13
Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF)14 • Leadership: Haile Mariyam Desalegn (Chairman); Demeke Mekonnen (Deputy Chairman) Founding date: October 20, 1994
1) Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) (leader: Abay Woldu); 2) Amhara National Democratic Movement (ANDM) (leader: Demeke Mekonnen); 3) Oromo People’s Democratic Organization (OPDO) (leader: Alemayehu Atomsa); 4) Southern Ethiopia Peoples’ Democratic Movement (SEPDM) (leader: Haile Mariyam Desalegn).
Platform: The Front is comprised of four subgroups “of equal status” that share leadership and administrative responsibilities within the umbrella organization:
The EPRDF focuses its social, political, economic, and foreign affairs platforms around the themes of “transparency and accountability, democratic centralism, equality and freedom, and a prompt performance. ” Somali People’s Democratic Party (SPDP) • • • Leadership: Ato Abdifetah Sheck Abdulahi (Chairperson)16 Founding date: Not Available Platform: Not Available
Argoba People’s Democratic Organization (APDO) • • • Leadership: Ato Abdulkadir Mohamed (Chairperson)23 Founding date: November 16, 200724 Platform: Not Available
Harari National League (HNL) • • Leadership: Ato Yasin Husein (Chairperson)25 Founding date: May 26, 199426 Platform: Not Available
Benishangul-Gumuz People’s Democratic Party (BGPDP) • • • Leadership: Ato Habtamu Hika (Chairperson)17 Founding date: November 30, 200918 Platform: Not Available
Ethiopian Federal Democratic Unity Forum, also known as Medrek • • • Leadership: Not available Founding date: 2008 27 Platform: This party is a coalition forum that is comprised of six sub parties: the Ethiopian Social Democratic Party, the Southern Ethiopian Peoples’ Democratic Coalition, the Oromo People’s Congress, the Oromo Federalist Democratic Movement, the Aarena Tigray for Democracy and Sovereignty, the Coalition of Somali Democratic Forces, the Unity for Democracy and Justice, and the Ethiopian Democratic Unity Movement.28 Medrek’s economic, social, and democracy promotion platforms are fundamentally centered on their opposition of the “divisive policies of EPRDF designed to keep itself in power, ” as they believe that the EPRDF’s “labeling real opposition as ‘anti-peace’ is dangerous and illegal. ”29 The Forum asserts that it will continue to “relentlessly work for peace and
Afar National Democratic Party (ANDP) • • • Leadership: The Honorable Ato Mohamed Kedir (Chairperson)19 Founding date: December 1, 199920 Platform: Not Available
Gambela People’s Democratic Movement (GPDM) • • • Leadership: His Excellency Umod Obong Alum (Chairperson)21 Founding date: January 2, 200822 Platform: Not Available
development in Ethiopia, ” through its economic liberalization and desire to promote equitable access to good and services among all its citizenry.30
1 IFES Election Guide. (2013, 10 January). Election Profile: Ethiopia. Retrieved from: http://www.electionguide.org/ country.php?ID=70 Structure of the Executive Branch (Source: African Elections Database, Retrieved from: http://africanelections. tripod.com/et.html) - The President is elected by indirect vote by the House of People’s Representatives to serve a 6-year term, renewable once - The Prime Minister is designated by the party in power following the legislative elections Brown, Oliver. (2013, June 19). Haile Gebrselassie turns sights on Ethopian presidency. Retrieved from: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/sport/othersports/athletics/10128506/Haile-Gebrselassie-turns-sights-on-Ethopian-presidency.html. Mail & Guardian. (2013, July 14). Ethiopia’s opposition holds rare protests. Retrieved from: http://mg.co.za/ article/2013-07-14-ethiopias-opposition-holds-rare-protests. Structure of the Legislative Branch (Source: African Elections Database, Retrieved from: http://africanelections. tripod.com/et.html) - The Federal Parliamentary Assembly has a bicameral structure with a lower house (House of People’s Representatives / Yehizb Tewokayoch Mekir Bete) and an upper house (House of Federation / Yefedereshein Mekir Bete ) - House of People’s Representatives: 547 total seats • Members are elected by direct popular vote in single-member constituencies using the first-pastthe-post (simple majority) system to serve 5-year terms • 22 constituencies are reserved to nationally recognized “Nationalities and Peoples” - House of Federation: 135 total seats • Members are chosen by regional state councils to serve 5-year terms • Regional councils may opt to hold direct elections, but none currently does
A key issue in the Ethiopian elections will be EPRDF’s long-running dominance on the political scene and its repressive slant. Under the EPRDF’s rule, freedom of expression has been stifled, and strict restrictions have been placed on the activities of human rights groups, the media, and opposition parties. Protests have been suppressed, and many government opponents have been jailed without cause and treated poorly while in custody.31 The new president will also have to navigate Ethiopia’s international relations, both on the African continent and abroad. Recent tensions with Egypt and Sudan concerning a new Nile River dam were a reminder to Ethiopians about the importance of the country’s relationships with its neighbors. Ethiopia will also ascend to the WTO in 2015, and is currently negotiating an offer on services with WTO members. Managing the international economic landscape will be key to determining Ethiopia’s future, and voters may have this in mind as they head to the polls.32
Seats are apportioned to each region in proportion to its number of millions of citizens. Each region (i.e. “Nation, Nationality, or People”) has a minimum of one seat
org/en/political-parties/active-political-parties.html 16 Ibid. 17 Ibid. 18 Ibid. 19 Ibid. 20 Ibid. 21 Ibid. 22 Ibid. 23 Ibid. 24 Ibid. 25 Ibid. 26 Ibid. 27 Sudan Tribune. (2008, 3 July). “Opposition holds ‘Forum for Democratic Dialogue in Ethiopia’, ” Sudan Tribune. Retrieved from: http://www.sudantribune.com/spip. php?article27725 28 Gadaa.com. (2010, 24 February). “Ethiopia: Medrek on Democracy, Economy, Federalism, Assab, Education, Health, ” Gadaa.com. Retrieved from: http://www.gadaa. com/oduu/?p=2548. 29 Ibid. 30 Ibid. 31 Amnesty International. (2013, 16 July). “Ethiopia. ” Retrieved from: http://www.amnesty.org/en/region/ ethiopia/report-2013. 32 Bloomberg. (2013, 15 July). “Ethiopia Plans to Make WTO Offer on Services by September. ” Retrieved from http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2013-07-14/ethiopian-government-to-make-wto-offer-on-services-by-september.html.
IFES Election Guide. (2013, 4 February). Election Profile: Ethiopia, 2010 Legislative Elections. Retrieved from: http://electionguide.org/election.php?ID=1489 African Elections Database. (2012, 21 August). Elections in Ethiopia. Retrieved from: http://africanelections. tripod.com/et.html Of the 46 seats not won by Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF), 44 were won by parties that are considered allies of the ruling coalition. The EPRDF and its allies won 545 of the 547 seats in the election. The opposition’s two seats were won by the Ethiopian Federal Democratic Unity Forum (MEDREK) coalition and an Independent. CIA World Factbook. (2013, 29 April). Africa: Ethiopia. Retrieved from: https://www.cia.gov/library/publi cations/the-world-factbook/geos/et.html
10 Ibid. 11 African Elections Database. (2012, 21 August). Elections in Ethiopia. Retrieved from: http://africanelections. tripod.com/et.html 12 Caelainn Barr. (2011, 3 August). “Ethiopia: the definitive guide, ” The Bureau of Investigative Journalism. Retrieved from: http://www.thebureauinvestigates. com/2011/08/03/ethiopia-the-definitive-guide/ 13 The parties chosen for analysis were determined on the number of seats each won respectively in the 2010 House of People’s Representatives elections. 14 Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front. (2012). EPRDF: In Brief. Retrieved from: http://www. eprdf.org.et/c/document_library/get_file?p_l_id=28836&folderId=191755&name=DLFE-4010.pdf 15 National Electoral Board of Ethiopia. (2010). Political Parties that are Actively Participating in the Upcoming Election. Retrieved from: http://www.electionethiopia.
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