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The Role of Historical Legacy in the Emergence of One-party Dominance

The Case of the Ethiopian Peoples Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF)

Thesis Submitted in Partial Fulfillment of the Requirements for the Degree of Master of Arts in Development and Governance

DuisburgUniversity of Duisburg-Essen Institute of Political Science

By Alemayehu Eyasu Tedla Supervisor: Professor Dr. Christof Hartmann

August 2011


I would like to express my sincere gratitude to the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD) which sponsored my study through its generous scholarship offer.

My special thanks also goes to my thesis supervisor, Professor Dr. Christof Hartmann, for his invaluable comments and overall support in the entire study period.

Finally, I would like to acknowledge Mr. Dennis Binder and his colleagues at the DAAD for making my competition in the scholarship possible, and extending their assistance throughout my stay in Germany.


AC ADLI ANDM CC CoR EDU EPDM EPRDF EPRP ESM ICG MEISON M-L MLLT NGO NQ OECD OLF OPDO PDO RST SEPDF SMC TGE TNC TPLF Audit Commission Agricultural Development-Led Industrialization Amhara National Democratic Front Central Committee Council of Representatives Ethiopian Democratic Union Ethiopian Peoples Democratic Movement Ethiopian Peoples Revolutionary Democratic Front Ethiopian Peoples Revolutionary Party Ethiopian Student Movement International Crisis Group All-Ethiopia Socialist Movement Marxist-Leninist Marxist Leninist League Tigray Non-Governmental Organization National Question Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development Oromo Liberation Front Oromo Peoples Democratic Organization Peoples Democratic Organization Relief Society of Tigray South Ethiopian Peoples Democratic Front Single Member Constituencies Transitional Government of Ethiopia Transitional National Council Tigray Peoples Liberation Front


List of Tables
Table 1. Definitions of Dominant Parties Table 2. Election Results of EPRDF and the Opposition from 1995-2010

List of Figures
Figure 5.1. Organizational Chart of TPLF, 1979 Figure 5.2. Local Administration, Mass Association and Cadre Structures, and their links with TPLF


Table of Contents
Acknowledgements........ii Acronyms......iii List of Tablesiv List of Figures...iv CHAPTER ONE............................................................................................................................1

1. Introduction .................................................................................................................. 1
1.1. Statement of the Problem..................................................................................................................1 1.2. Research Questions...........................................................................................................................4 1.3. Methodology.....................................................................................................................................4 1.4. Hypothesis.........................................................................................................................................5 1.5. Organisation of the Study........................................................................................................6 CHAPTER TWO............................................................................................................................7

2. Explaining One Party Dominance in Africa ................................................................ 6

2.1. Dominant Party Systems and Single Party Dominance7 2.2. Roots of One-Party Dominance.11 2.2.1. 2.2.2. Institutional Factors...12 Ethno-political Cleavages.14

2.2.3. Historical Legacy15


3. EPRDF as a Dominant Party...17

3.1. Electoral Dominance...18 3.2. Bargaining Position.19 3.3. Governmental Dominance..20 CHAPTER FOUR.21

4. From TPLF to EPRDF: The Political Legacy of the Ruling Party..22

4.1. TPLF as a reformist Guerilla Movement (1975-1989)...22 4.2. EPRDF and the Emergence of One Party Dominance (1991-1994)...26 CHAPTER FIVE29

5. The Historical Legacy of TPLF/EPRDF and its Post Liberation Political Dominance:
Is there a Link?..............................................................................................................30 5.1. Ideology..30 5.2. Organization and Operation35 5.3. The Legacy of Governance in Liberated Areas41
Conclusion47 References50

CHAPTER ONE 1. Introduction

1.1.Statement of the Problem

After 20 years since the fall of the former communist military-backed regime (popularly known as Derg) in 1991, political power in Ethiopia has remained a prerogative of a single partythe Ethiopian Peoples Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF). Although the TPLF/EPRDF1-led regime has introduced a number of liberalization measures from the outset including multiparty elections, regime change has proved to be elusive in the country in the face of an incumbency which continued to maintain its electoral dominance for long. According to Chege (2007:36), Ethiopia is most accurately described as a one dominant-coalition party state. Like many other African cases of stalled transitions, the four national multiparty elections conducted in Ethiopia since 1995 did little to change the ruling partys dominance. EPRDFs share of parliamentary seats has never dropped below 80 % while the largest opposition could only manage to claim 0.2 %, 1.5%, 20%, and 0.2% of the seats in the national elections held in 1995, 2000, 2005 and 2010 respectively (Hagmann, 2010:4).

The EPRDF took control of the Ethiopian state after wagging a protracted albeit successful armed struggle for 17 years. The party is an alliance of four ethnic-based groups, including the Oromo Peoples Democratic Organization (OPDO), the Amhara National Democratic Movement (ANDM), the South Ethiopian Peoples Democratic Front (SEPDF) and the Tigray Peoples Liberation Front (TPLF). All four regional-ethnic parties were created by TPLF which represents the Tigrayan ethnic minority but had the military upper hand in overthrowing the Derg regime. TPLF remains a formidable force within the EPRDF coalition.

TPLF/EPRDF is used in this study to emphasize the firm control of TPLF over the EPRDF coalition in which TPLF is a member. Nonetheless, the reference is still EPRDF.


Studies indicate that TPLF/EPRDF has created a hegemonic authoritarian state over its two decades rule in Ethiopia with an ideological dispensation and political behavior contradictory to liberal democratic principles (Vaughan, 2003; Asnake, 2010). These contradictions have mainly to do with its political philosophies of democratic centralism and revolutionary democracy that have become the bulwarks of the regimes hegemonic control and survival. According to a recent study by the International Crisis Group, the regime has instituted a mode of governance forged out of an unholy alliance between political decentralization and democratic centralization which is symptomatic of a dual dynamics...: a more visible, formally decentralized state structure and a more discreet but effective capture of the state by the EPRDF and its affiliated regional parties (ICG, 2009:27).

The regimes hegemonic status is further documented by Asnake (2010:12) who argues, the Ethiopian state, despite reforms towards ethnic federalism, has remained centralist authoritarian in a manner reminiscent of previous regimes. Similarly, Fantini (2007:8) utilizes the label authoritarian ethnic federalism to depict the tight control exercised by central authorities over the lower orders of governance. The EPRDF relies on total control of the state bureaucracy, not only because it wants to cling to power, but because public resources are the main patronage it can provide to its followers (Vaughan and Tronvoll, 2003). A well-organized party network extends from the federal to the regional, from the regional to the woreda (district), and from the woreda to the kebelle (smallest administrative unit) levels.

The apparent ideological contradiction is also reflected in the regimes policies that uphold the merits of a strong and highly interventionist state contrary to the expressed commitments to free market principles. Asnake (2010), for example, states that the ruling party is in an irreconcilable ideological contradiction as it advocates capitalism, yet retains a strong state role in the economy, including government land holding, and limits to individual liberties. Vaughan (2003:83), on her part, points to EPRDFs use of Revolutionary democracy as an attempt to reconcile the TPLF socialist legacy with global capitalism and market liberalism. In her views, the party employed this ideological variant to simply justify the need for the leadership of a strong party with economic and political muscle as evidenced from the extensive involvement of EPRDF-affiliated firms in the Ethiopian economy.

A number of research findings indicate single party dominance in Africa could be explained by specific historical, contextual and institutional factors in which concerned political parties have evolved and operated. Mozaffar and Scarritt (2005:406) explain the strange cohabitation of low fragmentation and high volatility in the African world of party systems with the continents historical legacies, social as well as institutional contexts. Doorenspleet and Nijzink (2011) on their part relate party dominance with enduring historical legacies of party systems and ruling parties in African states. Basedau (2005) has studied the causes of single party dominance in 38 party systems involving dominant and non-dominant parties. His finding identifies coercive party origin and prior authoritarian political environment as major causative factors accounting for party dominance in 30 (more than two thirds) of the cases investigated. Similarly, Salih (2007) invokes the liberation movement history of political parties, their revolutionary/Marxist ideology and their autocratic tendencies as explanatory factors for authoritarian one-party dominance in many Africa countries.

However, the link between the historical legacy of EPRDF and its current political dominance has not so far been studied in a systematic and detailed manner although such an approach would have helped to reveal important insights in to the partys nature, motivations and instruments of dominance. Most recent research work in the area mainly focused on issues of federalism, albeit a limited number of studies have been conducted linking authoritarianism, ethnicity, federalism, political culture and ideology in Ethiopia. Prominent among the latter include a study by Lovise Aalen (2002) on Ethnic Federalism in a Dominant Party State, Sara Vaughans (2003) work on ethnicity and power, and Jon Abbinks (2006) article linking elections (the 2005 Ethiopian election), democracy and political culture. Yet, their perspectives were too broad and their findings were barely relevant for explaining the roots of party dominance in Ethiopia.

Given this background, the observed empirical gap necessitates a study which could objectively explore the causal relationship between TPLF/EPRDFs legacy as an armed insurgency and its current political dominance so as to come up with further insights about political actors and democratic transitions. This study therefore seeks to explore the stated link.


1.2.Research Questions Overall, the thesis sets out to answer the following question:

How did the historical legacy of EPRDF contribute to its current political dominance?

With a view to address the general question indicated above, the study probes in to the specific questions presented below.

o Could its origin as a liberation/guerilla movement influenced its desire and tactics for establishing and maintaining one-party dominance? o Is the political ideology of the party relevant to explain its success in ensuring dominance? o Has the partys origin (in relation to the coalitions strong and senior partner, TPLF) as an insurgency from the minority ethnic Tigrean constituency influenced its action to ensure and maintain its political dominance? o Did its past leadership and governance styles and mechanisms affect its current practices to vie for absolute dominance in Ethiopian politics? o Have the reform measures it carried out after taking power helped it to establish and maintain its dominance? o How has it overall approached and executed the reform and transition process after coming to power?

1.3.Methodology As an exploratory study, a qualitative research technique would be utilized to collect, interpret and analyze data. Two methods of investigation, namely secondary data and case study would be specifically employed for the research using a hybrid empirical-analytical approach common in political sciences. Secondary data from such sources as books, scientific journals, magazines, files and records (from open and/or closed sources) would be utilized.


As the focus of the thesis is on studying the causal link between historical origin and one-party dominance relating to the Ethiopian case (EPRDF), a thorough investigation in to the historical legacies of the EPRDF from its early days as a rebel movement until its post liberation dominance would be made. This requires an in-depth study in to the political development of the party, its organization and leadership as well as its management, strategies and interaction with various political and community actors using a case study approach. This is supported by Newman (2000:32) who points out that in case study research, researchers examine in depth many features of a case or cases over a duration of time. 1.4.Hypothesis

The study seeks to test the following two related hypothesis in the case of the Ethiopian Peoples Revolutionary Democratic Front:

a) A reformist rebel movement is more likely to create one-party dominance post-liberation if it succeeds in its armed struggle because the key objective of the group is state building.

b) The narrower support base/ethnic representation a reformist insurgency has, the more it endeavors for political dominance post-liberation.


It is indicated in the works of political scientists that a partys historical background as a rebel movement affects its post liberation political behavior, especially the higher probability of it transforming in to a dominant party. According to Metelits (2007), rebel movements pursue a strategy of political domination and control over communities in order to mobilize sufficient human, material and financial resources for their war efforts. This legacy in turn influences the political behavior of these groups post liberation (Ibid). As such, the theory of political party dominance emphasizes the significance of a political partys historical roots to explain its subsequent political behavior. According to Peters (1998:150), one of the purposes of conducting a case study relates to its possible use as a Plausibility Probe which helps to explore the

relevance/plausibility of a concept by employing a particular case. Therefore, the study seeks to assess the applicability of the above hypothesis using the case of the EPRDF.

1.5.Organization of the Study

The rest of the paper is organized under five chapters. Chapter two discusses the theoretical and empirical issues relating to the nature and roots of one-party dominance in Africa. Chapter three defines the standards with which EPRDFs dominance could be established. The political history of TPLF and later EPRDF is discussed in chapter four. The section on EPRDF mainly deals with the instruments employed by the party to establish its early political dominance. Chapter five assesses the link between TPLFs historical legacy as a guerilla movement and its post-liberation dominance as a ruling party. The chapter analyses the fronts ideological and organizational legacies as well as its approaches to local governance to determine the impact of TPLFs background on the domineering political behavior and practices of the ruling TPLF/EPRDF. Finally, the concluding section summarizes the findings, and determines the link between historical legacy and political dominance in the case of TPLF/EPRDF.


CHAPTER TWO 2. Theoretical Discussion: Explaining One-Party Dominance in Africa

A large majority of ruling parties in Africa seem to have effectively shielded themselves from the democratic anomaly commonly experienced by party systems in consolidated democracies. Based on his study in to African party systems, Basedau (2005:22) concludes one-party dominance is the central feature of party systems in Africa unlike cases elsewhere. His finding, up on analyzing 38 country cases in a 15 year period beginning 1990, shows more than half of the party systems investigated belong to the dominant category. Similarly, Carbone (2007) describes one-party dominance in Africa as a political puzzle characterizing the continents third wave reform processes. Contrary to expectations of fragmented party systems to prevail in Africa, the reality rather reveals a trend towards dominant and predominant party systems (Erdmann and Basedau, 2007).

One-Party dominance in Africa therefore remains an enduring dilemma in party system research as political scientists continue to grapple with the explanatory variables as well as the specific features and nature of single party dominance at the various categories and stages of the evolving party system in different regimes. Having largely drawn from the European/ Western discourse, a number of studies have endeavored to explain dominance and determine the significance of key variables put forth by the mainstream party system theory in an African context.

The section below first presents the theoretical and empirical determinants of dominance. It then moves on to discussing the relevance of key explanatory variables of party dominance in the broader literature on Africa. Finally, it captures the link between dominance and historical legacy as the latter causes the former, from both a theoretical and empirical perspective.

2.1.Dominant Party Systems and Single-Party-Dominance

Friedman and Wong (2008:4) attach particular importance to dominant party systems not only as a sub-set of political systems cross-cutting the authoritarian-democracy divide, but also as a subject of comparative politics that made a re-conceptualization of political systems and their

transitions possible. In a political environment in which a relation of dominance and competition coexist, it is often a challenge to determine the nature of competition and the trajectories of a democratic transition. As such, dominant party systems are often emphasized from the point of view of their effects on the degree of democratic quality and democratic consolidation in both authoritarian and democratic political systems besides their potential impacts on on-going democratization processes.

Having borrowed from Sartoris definition, Bogaards (2004:177) conceptualizes a dominant party system as one in which a dominant party effectively determines the system of interactions resulting from inter-party competition. The work of Sartori (1976) on African Party Systems is especially notable as he provides a separate typology on African party systems which is critical not only to understand party system development in Africa but also to capture the authoritarian-democratic divide in the political system. He identifies between two stages of party system development, namely initial (fluid) and structured (crystallized) stages based on the degree of the systems embeddedness (existence of well entrenched mass party) in society which many African party systems are indicated to be wanting.

Single party dominance is not a political feature exclusive to undemocratic contexts but also a political reality in democracies; and hence Sartoris (1976) dominant authoritarian and dominant non-authoritarian typology applies. Carbone (2007:14), for example, discusses the confusion surrounding the use of the term dominance in African politics as such: some may be properly referred to as dominant parties, but others are in reality full-fledged hegemonic parties (that is, authoritarian dominant parties). While the former notion relates to a situation that is fundamentally competitive, the latter is about non-competitive systems.

Erdmann and Basedau (2008) operationalize the concept of institutionalization using indicators to determine whether the party system have reached the structured stage. These include a minimum of three consecutive election episodes, uninterrupted democratic rule without violent conflict, etc., a value of volatility not exceeding 40, and a minimum party age of 15 (Erdmann and Basedau, 2008:245). Accordingly, their findings underscore highly fragmented systems in Africa to be largely a myth as dominant and predominant party systems are prevalent, even in

institutionalized party systems in a democratic environment. The reality appear to be symptomatic of Spiesss (2009:14-15) views which asserts that as long as party system development goes hand in hand with democratization and reform processes in transitional periods, the party system may assume increasing political roles but likely remain fragile and liable to manipulation by political elites.

Similarly, Sartorys typology underlines the largely fluid nature of African party systems, and categorizes these polities in to dominant authoritarian, dominant non-authoritarian, nondominant non-authoritarian and pulverized party systems. An essential category for our purpose is the dominant authoritarian system where single party dominance is sustained through different forms of suppression and manipulation in an effort of circumscribing effective contestation while the semblance of electoral democracy is maintained. Further, Sartori distinguishes between a number of party systems from hegemonic authoritarian through to variants of fragmented, polarized and atomized types in his structured category. In the context of an in-depth qualitative case study research, Spiesss (2009) recommends the adoption of an analytical purview that goes beyond the discussion of fragmentation and polarization thesis in the context of transition societies including those in Africa. Her premise relates to the need to explore the distinct qualities of the party system that represent its mobilizational, organizational and process-related aspects to come to grips with its unique traits and mode of operation (Spiesss, 2009:14). She specifically details the necessity to probe in to the following key aspects of the party systems: a. Linkage strategies including clientelist versus programmatic, patronage-based versus transformative; b. Intraparty organization such as functional accommodative versus centralist; c. Style of politics, viz. consensual versus confrontational, delegitmative versus cooperative, and; d. Rhetorical strategy and policy options including ideological versus pragmatic. (Spiess, 2009:14) Party dominance has been established differently by different scholars using varied criteria. Bogaards (2004:174-175), for instance, establishes party dominance based on four yardsticks:

dominance threshold, system inclusiveness (to the opposition), divided government (in presidential systems), and duration of incumbency. Similarly, Basedau (2005:2) describes Pempels (1990) defining criteria as composed of four elements of political dominance: the partys numerical dominance, its bargaining power, dominance of tenure, and dominant position in controlling state power. Boggards (2004) summarizes the specific standards used by scholars to operationalize their definitions of party dominance in a tabular form as follows. Table 1. Definitions of dominant parties
Column1 Column2 Column3 Column4 Column5 Column6 Column7 Column8



Van de Valle & Butler

Ware Sartori Ware Blondel Predomin (pre) dominant ant dominant

40-50% (votes)


Threshold 40-50% of 70% (seats) 60% (seats) 50% (seats) 50% (seats) (seats) Dominance Several Opposition Dispersed Divided Smaller parties No divided President governmen t Analysis limitted to single selection Analysis Three limitted to Permanent consequitiv single e elections selection Dominant Party should win usually

Plurality (votes & seats) Multiple Inferior Opposition bargaining helpful position


Analysis over Substantial twenty period year period

Source: Boggards (2004:176)

As could be seen from the table, the definitions assign different values to the four variables of dominance based on differing contextual and conceptual grounds. Boggards (2004) singles out Van de Valle and Buttlers (1999), Colemans (1960) as well as Sartoris (1976) classical definition as suitable for use in an African context. Leaving the argument on the merits of employing specific values aside, many researchers support combined approaches involving Sartories 50% natural thresholds and three consecutive terms criteria, Boggards criteria of governmental dominance (monopoly), as well as Colemans and Wares principles of dispersed/fragmented opposition (Carbone, 2007; Boggards, 2004; Basedau, 2005).
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As indicated above, political scientists recommend the use of qualitative criteria besides quantitative variables such as electoral dominance to understand single party dominance in the context of specific case study research. A number of qualitative standards could then be used that emphasize on the distribution of power within the party system (not just number of parties), horizontal and vertical aspects of interaction (viz. within the system, to society, state structure, political and social system) as well as the inherent drive of the dominant party to create an image of grandeur (Spiess, 2009). The conceptual discussion conducted here would be later employed in the next chapter to explain the case of EPRDF as may be appropriate.

2.2.Roots of One-Party Dominance

Scholars concede that single party dominance constitutes one of the least investigated subjects in African politics, especially in relation to its causative factors (Erdmann & Basedau, 2007; Carbone, 2007; Doorenspleet and Nijzink, 2011). According to Basedau (2005) recent studies focus rather on methodological questions such as the definition and the operationalization of one-party dominance.

In the specific African context, it is Nicolas van de Walle (2002) who has attempted to provide the most comprehensive set of, albeit tentative explanations for one-party dominance. He names as incentives for one-party dominance the illiberal nature of most of the countries, the characteristic centralization of power around the presidency and the pervasive clientelism that structures the relationship between the state and its citizenry. Mozaffar and Scarritts (2005) study has indicated that the high prevalence of dominant party systems (and low fragmentation) might be explained by the institutional legacies of authoritarian regimes in the formation and development of political parties.

Dominant parties and hegemonic parties (or authoritarian dominant parties) normally emerge following different causal paths. As Basedau (2005:26) puts it: authoritarian dominant parties play foul and are typically characterized by a coercive historical origin [armed conflicts, military coup or single partism], a strongly presidential system of government and poor socio-economic and political governance. On the other hand, non authoritarian dominant parties show less
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violent and coercive historical origins and tend to benefit from a favourable performance and/or a combination of socio-political cleavages and electoral institutions. A number of factors are generally attributed to the emergence and sustenance of single-party dominance, yet quite a few of them have been found to have a significant impact in the African context. A brief review is made below to look in to the merits of some of the key variables to explaining party dominance in Africa.

2.2.1. Institutional Factors

The classical institutional discourse regards the choice of specific electoral systems and systems of government (systems governing legislative-executive power relations) to have significant contribution to the emergence of one-party dominance/dominant party systems. A number of empirical research findings in the field, however, question the relevance of the institutional hypothesis to explaining one-party-dominance in Africa (Basedau, 2005; Lindberg, 2005). The following review on the two oft-cited institutional factors serves to provide a birds eye view of the issue involved.

a) Electoral System

The mainstream thinking about the impact of the electoral system on the party system is informed by the level of proportionality or disproportionality the different electoral principles might produce while translating votes in to seats. Consequently, the specific legislative electoral system may have reductive influences on the number of legislative parties on the one hand, and may create asymmetries in the balance of the party system on the other (Golder, 2004). Majoritarian systems are generally associated with disproportionate outcomes, and hence premised on the logic of creating stable legislative majorities (governance capacity) while PR systems are believed to maintain proportional representation in the system, and as such assumed to be ideal for ensuring representative justice (Basedau, 2005; Golder, 2004; Lindberg, 2005). Thus what generally follows is that disproportional electoral systems such as first-past-the-post principles provide fertile grounds for the emergence of single-party dominance whereas proportional ones result in fragmentation.
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Nevertheless, Basedau (2005:7) has found no significant correlation between electoral systems and party dominance in Africa as one party system occurs in all kinds of electoral systems, and that artificial majorities are rare in African party systems. Similarly, Golder (2004) has reached the same conclusion after his study finds limited causality between the number of effective parties and the degree of district magnitude in African electoral systems. His overall assessment was that electoral institutions do not (yet) have the same impact on the number of parties in Africa as they do in other regions of the world. (Ibid: 13) The limited explanatory value of electoral systems to understand one-party dominance in Africa has also led Doorenspleet and Lia Nijzink (2011) to suggest the use of a combination of electoral variables such as incentive structures, funding and registration of parties instead of adopting a minimalist perspective on electoral systems.

b) System of Governance

Owing to specific adherence to minimalist or maximalist definitions, scholars diverge as to the nature and institutional features of government prevailing in Africa. Many indicate the prevailing form of government in African to be presidential with a relatively small number of countries adopting semi-presidential and parliamentary systems. An important criterion employed here relates to the power of the president to select and determine the survival of government regardless of whether the president being directly or indirectly elected (Golder, 2004:7). On the other hand, others argue, most African political systems represent a hybrid type, in the sense that they combine elements of presidential and parliamentary systems of government. (van Cranenburgh, 2011:4). At issue is lack of separation of power between the legislative and executive branches expected of presidential systems as, for instance, the president controls the cabinet as well as the executive. Despite perspectives on the prevailing institutional anomaly, however, both underline the disproportionate balance of power vested on the presidency in African systems leading van Cranenburghs characterization of hyperpresidential systems (Ibid: 4). As the concentration of power in the hands of the president provides excessive decree/agenda power, and facilitates increased access to state resources, scholars point to the need to inquire after whether the strong

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presidential systems may have contributed for the prevalence of dominant parties in Africa (Basedau, 2005; Doorenspleet and Nijzink, 2011). Basedau discusses possible claims associated with the attributes of strong presidency including (concentration) effects on patterns of voter behavior, access to state resources, and influence in setting electoral arrangements, especially relating to design of electoral systems and election schedules (Ex. Concurrence).

Nevertheless, Basedaus finding indicates no significant evidence to justify that strong presidentialism, and even parliamentarism contributed to the entrenchment of dominant parties in Africa. Similarly, Doorenspleet and Nijzink (2011:9) conclude these variations of the institutional arrangements of parliamentary versus presidential or semi-presidential

systemshave little influence on the patterns of one-party dominance.

2.2.2. Ethno-political Cleavages

Despite the growing importance of cleavages relating to class, profession, ideology and way of life, etc. in modern African societies, ethnicity, especially politicized ethnicity has been regarded as key to shaping evolving party structures in Africa. A reliance on the generic thesis would thus lead to an assumption that the prevailing ethnic fragmentation in Africa may result in the development of fragmented party systems in the continent owing to its effect on voting behavior (Lindberg, 2005). Yet, as extensively discussed in earlier sections, this is hardly the case in contemporary party system constellations in Africa.

Recent scholarship has it that the nature of ethnic identity and its effect on African party systems are much more elusive than suggested by the conventional discourse. The issue becomes the more complicated while considered against the practical difficulty of ethnic identification in Africa; the cross cutting nature of ethnic allegiances; and issues pertaining to the fluid nature of ethnic identities. Norris and Mattes (2003) find that ethnicity does play key role in determining support for ruling parties, but that ethnicity is not always the primary cleavage in African polities. Bannon, Miguel, and Posner (2004) demonstrate that there is no simple relationship between ethnic fractionalization and the likelihood that individuals will identify themselves first and foremost in ethnic terms. While notwithstanding its potential explanatory value in combination
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with other variables, Basedau (2005) is also quite explicit in stating the inadequacy of ethnicity to understand party dominance in Africa.

Despite quite contrary to the conventional thesis, Mazaffar, Scarritt and Galaich (2003), however, demonstrate that both ethno-political fragmentation and the geographical concentration of ethnic groups are important factors in explaining the number of political parties. Their finding states that fragmentation alone produces a reductive effect on the number of parties despite its incremental effect when interacts with concentration (Ibid: 1). Further, they explain the role of ethno-political cleavages in leveraging the effect of highly disproportional as well as proportional electoral systems on party structures. Yet, per Basedaus (2005) study to test their claim, the link between the variables appears worthwhile but lacks quantitative significance.

2.2.3. Historical Legacy

According to Basedau (2005:20), historical background provides the best explanatory value to understand the emergence of one-party dominance in Sub Saharan Africa. Similarly Doorenspleet and Nijzink (2011) confirm that the endurance of one-party dominant systems is highly related to the historical background of the party systems in Africas modern democracies and the history of the current ruling parties. Yet, the level of violence characterizing the struggle, or the mode of transition varies for the various movement regimes, and the nature of transition differs accordingly.

Dorman (2006) identifies between those post-movement regimes that came to power through a negotiated settlement after an armed resistance, and those that controlled state power at the barrel of the gun. Despite later reversal of gains in the case of Zimbabwe, the combined effect of bush war and international pressure led to multiracial elections and the negotiated removal of settler rule in Zimbabwe in 1980, Namibia in 1990 and South Africa in 1994. In contrast, second-phase liberation movements that seized power in Uganda in 1986, Ethiopia and Eritrea in 1991, and Rwanda in 1994 were relatively free to singlehandedly implement their reformist agenda and shape their respective states in their own images (Saleh, 2007). As Dorman (2006:1097)

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elaborates The goal of liberation movements was not just to seize power, but also to reshape the state.

As Leys and Saul (1994:146) remark, there is a distinct possibility that the very process of struggling for liberation, especially by resort to force of arms, may generate political practices that prefigure undemocratic outcomes in the wake of revolutionary success. Many liberation movements have a clear and well articulated ideology that has been honed in the bush to attract recruits and civilian supporters, as well as for presentation to the media and academics (Ibid.). Particular forms, norms and practices of rule are developed in liberated zones.

As Dorman (2006) relates prolonged warfare leads to the development of hierarchies, hardship and brutality have been experienced, and links with external supporters and arms dealers have been strengthened. These factors continue to influence the style of governance, institutional forms and relations with civilian populations post-liberation. But other factors also matterthe nature of the transition, the character of the state against which the revolution has occurred, the reaction of the former incumbents and the international array of forces (Ibid.).

Overall, most post liberation movements including EPRDF are indicated to have exhibited leftist, populist ideologies; bear tensions arising out of conflicts between liberation and democracy, harbor a feeling of ownership of the state and the nation (legitimacy to rule), a tendency to centralize and dominate power, and related political behaviors which are distinct from other political actors and formations (Dorman, 2006, Basedau, 2005; Saleh, 2007; Doorenspleet and Nijzink, 2011).

While notwithstanding research efforts including those reviewed here, it wouldnt be inappropriate to share Basedaus (2005) reasoning that research in this topic is at its stage of infancy, and that in depth country case studies will contribute to a better understanding of exact mechanisms and dynamics of emergence and maintenance of one-party dominance. It is thus against this circumstances that the thesis is conceived. The concepts reviewed here would help to analyze factors related to EPRDFs historical legacy that contributed to the partys dominance in post-liberation Ethiopian politics.
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CHAPTER THREE 3. EPRDF as a Dominant Party

Despite a long history of statehood, multiparty politics is a recent experience in Ethiopia that only came in to existence following EPRDFs ascent to power in 1991. Previous elections under the imperial regime constituted no-party competitions among ruling elites while subsequent elections under the socialist regime were carried out in a context of a one party state. Up on assuming power, the EPRDF allowed party formation and multiparty completion, albeit in a much circumscribed political environment. As noted by Arriola (2008:118), there is little disagreement as regards the intention of EPRDF to entrench itself in power by expanding its influence to every ethno regional cleavage with an ethnic congress, even if meant competing with, and even supplanting, its erstwhile allies in the fight against Mengistu Haile Mariams military backed regime. That remains the norm to this day, and constitutes the subject of this study.

On the basis of discussions in preceding sections, and drawing from Greens (2006:4) and Spiess (2009:12) definitions of one-party-dominance, the study assigns the following definition to operationalise the concept of a dominant party in the Ethiopian political context: A dominant party is a political party that maintains executive and legislative dominance for at least three consecutive elections winning an absolute majority of popular seats in minimally competitive elections wherein the party dominates government, policy making, public opinion, political competition and discourse. Therefore, it is essential to critically assess EPRDFs position in the party system using criteria stated in the above definition. The most important aspects of the definition are electoral dominance, bargaining position, and governmental dominance. The analysis uses these three variables to establish the partys dominant position in the system.

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3.1.Electoral Dominance As stated in earlier sections, electoral dominance could be explained using share of total votes and seats in consecutive elections. Yet, given the lack of data on vote shares in Ethiopian elections, legislative seat shares are only factored in to our definition. Accordingly, threshold for seats is set at above 50 % (50+1 %), and the minimum tenure is fixed at three consecutive elections, which in the Ethiopian case is equivalent to 15 years and above.

Ethiopia has conducted four national elections following its transition period and the adoption of its new constitution in 1995. The Ethiopian constitution provides for a parliamentary system with an elected legislature and a premier appointed by the legislature (lower house) (Ethiopian Constitution, 1995). Thus, legislative elections are held every five years in 547 ethnicallydetermined districts using the plurality formula in Single Member Constituencies (SMCs) (Ishiyama, 2009). Table 2 summarizes the results of the four consecutive elections held in Ethiopia since 1995.

Table 2: Election results of EPRDF and the Opposition from 1995-2010

Election Year


Seat Share

Voter Turn Out (%)

82.9 90 90 90 82.9 90 90 90

528 534 373 545 19 13 174 2

EPRDF & its affiliates

2000 2005 2010

Opposition and Independen ts

1995 2000 2005 2010

Source: Compiled based on data from Arriola (2008) and Hagmann (2010)

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As displayed in the table, EPRDF has managed to claim more than three quarters of the seats with 95 per cent of the corresponding votes in three of the four consecutive elections excepting the 2005 election. The 2005 election episode saw a relatively reduced seat share for the ruling EPRDF although it still maintained its absolute dominance. In such a highly asymmetrical scenario that lasted more than 20 years, some researchers even prefer to talk of hegemony than dominance. According to Roessler and Howard (2006: 110), for instance, If the winning party or candidate received more than 70% of the popular vote or 70% of the seats in parliament in the previous election, we code the regime as hegemonic. Donno (2011) further adds a more benign criteria relating to tenure than adopted by this study which categorizes authoritarian regimes staying in power for more than ten years as hegemonic authoritarian. However, it is suffice for our case to establish EPRDFs dominance based on the first criteria employed herein, namely electoral dominance.

3.2.Bargaining Position

In order to explain the bargaining position of EPRDF to maintain its dominance, our earlier conceptual discussion guides us to direct the analytical emphasis in to the partys horizontal interaction with the opposition, and its vertical links with state, society and relevant political forces. What comes up first in the nature of EPRDFs interaction with opposition parties in Ethiopia is that the party continues to impose an exceedingly hierarchical interactive framework, and exploit the prevailing mutual distrust and antipathy to marginalize the opposition (Merera, 2007). As it controls not only all branches of government at the national level but also the entire constituent regions and local and grassroots administrative units of government, the party has succeeded in establishing a highly centralized and hegemonic rule in the country. In line with its Marxist conformity-seeking orientation, it appears to regard the opposition as a threat to its continued power and reformist vision. As maintained by Chege (2007:35) , to the extent that the formation of political parties in Ethiopia has been permitted, their freedom to operate has been so circumscribed that none of them has had even a remote chance of competing with the EPRDF.

It therefore tends to largely employ suppressive and delegitimizing strategies rather than inclusionary and reconciliatory ones to retain its unchallenged status. The opposition itself
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contributes to the maintenance of the status quo as it largely remained divided over ideology and strategy and failed as a credible force with policy alternatives to mount an organized campaign, communicate its agenda and mobilize support (Harbeson, 2005). Owing to its sole command over military, political and economic apparatus and resources of the state, the ruling party resorts to establish new, like minded party affiliates and/or form countervailing phony parties to augment its position and discredit relatively strong contenders (Abbink, 2006).

As noted by Merera (2011:8), the strategy of forming Peoples Democratic Organizations (PDOs) helped the party to speak through the mouths of other ethnic groups as well as win elections and rule the country in the name of all the peoples of Ethiopia. The establishment of ANDM, OPDO and SEPDF as members of the EPRDF congress-coalition at different times by TPLF could serve as a case in point. As such, the party has been able to ensure its absolute dominance through suppression, divide and rule tactics, delegitimization, expansion and entrenching the ethnic congress through new ethno-regional party formations and affiliates.

As regards its broader relations to society and societal forces, the party has been active in membership recruitments, and the creation and maintenance of loyalty through political mobilization and patronage. The party maintains an extended cadre network connected to each locality, and continues to operate mass organizations like women and youth associations (ICG, 2009). It strategically ties major national policies such as land policy, and public interventions activities including input supplies and relief programs to continued political support and loyalty at local level (Human Rights Watch, 2010). Broader societal support and political allegiance has also been promoted through a successful fusion of the state and the party. The partys drive for dominance as well informs its elite cooptation strategy through the maintenance of political patronage.

3.3.Governmental Dominance

Some scholars rebuke EPRDF of degenerating Ethiopian politics in to a de facto one party state system. The highly centralized party structure of the EPRDF is being blamed for permeating the federal structure, and distorting its decentralized features as well as the very essence of
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autonomy and self-administration (Tronvoll, 2010). The party dominates the public policy agenda and monopolizes developmental discourse and initiatives (Merera, 2011). Civil society and media are largely forced to refrain from the articulation and promotion of societal interests. Criticism against the party and its grand vision amounts to an antisocial and antitransformational conspiration directed at the state (Hagman, 2010).

Hagman convincingly demonstrates how EPRDFs dominance has evolved during the last 20 years from commanding a monopoly over political power to include a monopoly over shaping developmental discourse. He notes EPRDFs continuous framing and reframing of its legitimatizing discourse from its initial No development without democracy rhetoric through to the subsequent No democracy without development claim and finally to No development without stability thesis (Ibid: 6-7). By controlling public agenda, thus, the partys dominance has been justified through an evolving discourse depending on changing political reality. Therefore, legitimacy does not reside with people but continually molded by the party on behalf of its subjects.

Therefore, by all conservative measures, be it quantitative or qualitative parameters, or both, EPRDF constitutes a dominant party. If we are to take Donnos (2011) criteria stated in 3.1 above seriously, it could further be possible to characterize EPRDF as hegemonic authoritarian.

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CHAPTER FOUR 4. From TPLF to EPRDF: The Political Legacy of the Ruling Party
Following its successive military victories against the Derg/Ethiopian army in the late 1980s and its control of more areas beyond Tigray, analysts note, the TPLF saw the necessity to create a multiethnic coalition with EPDM (now ANDM) to lead the struggle at the broader national stage (Young, 1994). The Ethiopian Peoples Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF) was therefore established in 1989 as a joint front between TPLF and the then Ethiopian Peoples Democratic Movement (EPDM), now ANDM, which itself was formed in 1979 with TPLFs sponsorship. The Oromo Peoples Democratic Organization (OPDO) followed suit in joining the coalition after its formation in 1990 by ethnic Oromo prisoners of war under TPLFs custody. The last coalition partner to join the ranks of the EPRDF was the Southern Ethiopia Peoples Democratic Front (SEPDF) which was established by the EPRDF in 1994 to create an ethno-regional party representing diverse ethnic groups in Southern Ethiopia.

As a senior partner to the coalition and a major sponsor of the parties constituting it, it is the TPLF whose case would then be of interest to our study. Indeed, its long history as an armed guerilla movement and its majestic role in post-liberation Ethiopian politics adds to the significance of its legacy to explaining the roots of EPRDFs enduring dominance. Accordingly, the first part of the chapter would dwell in the history of TPLF and assesses the organizational, operational and programmatic aspects of the fronts history. An analytical approach would be utilized to review the history of the front in favor of a descriptive-chronological one. The assessment attempts to mainly look in to: why and how the armed struggle started? and How the organization evolved and operated? in relation to the fronts record on political dominance.

4.1.TPLF as a Guerilla Movement (1975-1989)

The TPLFs saga appears the more adventurous considering the organizations humble origins. When TPLF was founded at Dedebit, a remote Western Tigray locality at a distance of 900 km from the Ethiopian capital Addis Ababa, in 1975, it was largely a club of a dozen youthful university students and school teachers who had neither skills in guerilla warfare nor experience
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in political leadership. As noted by Young (1994:168), the small group of students who first made up the TPLF were at the bottom of a learning curve on the practicalities of fighting a revolutionary war. Young further recounts how the early TPLF turned in to wandering bandits trying to create the semblance of a huge military presence across Tigray; and how they employed a number of kidnappings and hit-and-run tactics to draw local as well as international attention.

However, the founders were of the view that the depth of the problem in Tigray was sufficient to justify armed struggle and bring more following to the cause of liberating the province from the grips of the Amhara-dominated2 centralist regime. According to the former chairman of the front, Aregawi Berhe, the reason behind initiating the struggle has to do with the collective grievances of Tigrayans as a result of domination and discrimination in the hands of the ruling Amhara; lack of cultural and political autonomy for the region as well as the widespread poverty and underdevelopment in Tigray (Aregawi, 2004).

Besides heeding to the above triggers, Vaughan (2003) and Young (1994) further make references to the perceived cultural supremacy among Tigrayans and their resentment over the loss of their past glory as an Abyssinian center of power during the Axumite period. It would therefore be cogent to deduce part of the problem emanates from an age old, historical rivalry between the Amharas and Tigreans for the control of the Ethiopian state. This clearly resulted in hatred and resentment on the part of Tigreans for having been denied access to the benefits and privileges of the state for centuries by their arch rivals, the Amharas. It is instructive to quote the reflections of Walter Plowden made in the 19th century to shade some light on the nature of the historical rivalry between the two competing ethnic groups: Teegray is now almost universally acquainted with the Amharic language, and their customs, food and dress have become so assimilated to those of the Amharas as not to require separate description, though their hatred of that people is undiminished (Plowden, 1868 in Vaughan, 2003:157). The historical precedent, among others, could have contributed to the current drive by TPLFs elite to rely on the politics of hate and maintain dominance in Ethiopian politics.
A traditionally dominant (politically) dominant ethnic group inhabiting the central highlands of Ethiopia accounting for 26% (19.8 million) of Ethiopias population according to the 2007 census. (see the online WIKIPEDIA Free Encyclopedia for more at

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Concerning TPLFs early development, a number of factors are attributed to its transformation from a severely weak hit-and-run group in to an effective fighting force after the late 1970s. Chief among them include the fronts use of Tigrayan ethno-nationalism to mobilize the masses (Aregawi, 2008); its strategic decision to establish a strategic alliance with Eritrean Peoples Liberation Front (EPLF); its pursuit of a struggle centered on the peasantry and rural areas (Young, 1994) as well as the role of its pragmatic leadership that led the struggle by combining ethnic mobilization with Marxist Leninist ideology (Vaughan, 2003).

The TPLF did not take time to approach the EPLF, a force then fighting for the independence of Eritrea from Ethiopia, in the interest of forging strategic alliance and technical cooperation (Aregawi, 2008). As a result, it was able to maintain ties with the more established EPLF as far back as 1975, and obtain its technical support in the training of fighters and the supply of weapons. More importantly, the alliance facilitated an opportunity for both fronts to coordinate their military and political activities (Young, 1994).

As one of the major ethno-national groups that advocate the resolution of the National Question in Ethiopia through self-determination up to and including secession, TPLFs mobilisational strategy was centered on the promotion of Tigrayan nationalism. Owing to its emphasis on the national question, TPLF initially operated as a separatist-cum-reform movement aiming at both the cessation of Tigray from Ethiopia and the establishment of the Tigrayan nation on the basis of ethnicity. When it shaded its separatist stance by mid-1980s, the movement transformed itself in to a purely reformist insurgency intent on reorganizing the Ethiopian state on ethnic criteria.

Given Tigrays arguably near ethnic homogeneity and the political resentment in some circles, the organization succeeded in constructing a re-imagined Tigrayan identity (Vaughan, 2003). The front used various forms of cultural expression including the Tigrayan language, which was then officially replaced by Amharic as a language of instruction in Tigray schools as well as local oral traditions, songs and poems to promote a unique identity. Historical symbols, memories and socioeconomic and political grievances had also been employed to create and recreate ethnic consciousness (Ibid).
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According to Young (1994), the leadership of the TPLF did not only use ethno-nationalism to attract the peasantry to the struggle. The organization had to convince the peasantry that it was the only force to rely on, and that it was capable of meeting the needs and demands of farmers. TPLF proved its military supremacy by defeating its arch multi-nationalist rivals, namely the Ethiopian Democratic Union (EDU) and Ethiopian Peoples Revolutionary Party (EPRP) in 1978, and endeavored to provide basic public goods especially security and agricultural extension (Ibid). The TPLF had never allowed another party to operate in Tigray and/or represent the people of Tigray. Beginning its early days, it endeavored to portray itself as a vanguard party representing the entire Tigray and its society.

TPLF had been criticized as a movement which is highly secretive and conformity/consensusoriented. First, as a political entity operating under strict Marxist-Leninist principles, plurality of ideas and differences were not tolerable (ICG, 2009). In the occasion of contradicting an important political principle perceived to be crucial to the organization such as ethno-nationalism, the action amounts to betrayal against the party. Second, factionalism was not only denounced but also punished, and often employed as an effective tool by powerful internal actors to drive their rivals away from the party (McCracken, 2004). Therefore, TPLF leaders, some argue, would only endure differences and competitions until they achieve their goal but would avenge any perceived act of confrontation and/or challenge at an opportune moment (Ibid). Therefore, dominance was to a certain extent maintained through coercion while contractarian (per Metelits, 2007) approaches involving local governance and service delivery were also emphasized.

Consequently, the organization continued to grow in strength throughout the 1980s except the period of 1984-85 famine which heavily affected the Tigray region. In 1987, Young (1994) notes, the TPLF reached a conclusion that a balance of power maintained against the Derg, and a condition of stalemate prevailed after which time the front worked to reverse the balance in its favor beginning 1988 and 1989. In the end, the long battle drew to its end after the entire Derg army left Tigray in 1989, and TPLF and its partners finally controlled Addis Ababa in May 1991.

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4.2.EPRDF and the Emergence of One-Party-Dominance (1991-1994) After President Mengistu Hailemariam, the then Ethiopian dictator, fled to Zimbabwe and the TPLF/EPRDF army moved closer to Addis Ababa, the care taker military administration led by General Tesfaye Gebrekidan ordered the military to lay down arms and surrender (Paulos, 2003). The victorious EPRDF army subsequently controlled Addis Ababa in May 1991 in a swift and largely bloodless offensive. The challenges as well as benefits of state power in the maintenance of security, rebuilding of the state and effecting political transformation had fallen in the hands of the EPRDF. Following its assumption of power, TPLF/EPRDF quickly turned its focus on promoting political processes and building institutions critical to legitimize and strengthen the party. It moved to redefine and transform the state in a manner supportive of establishing and entrenching the partys political dominance (Aalen, 2002). The party had initially endeavored to reposition itself through renouncing Marxism-Leninism and adopting free market orthodoxy while making a quick institutional revision on its party structure. The latter move resulted in the pruning or liquidation of TPLFs powerful political wing, the Marxist Leninist League of Tigray (MLLT) and its replica from EPDM, the Ethiopian Marxist Leninist Force (EMLF). Many TPLF members are still in the dark as to how the MLLT structure has been mysteriously dissolved (Vaughan and Tronvoll, 2003). With this act of reimaging, the organization endeavored to make a clear contrast to the previous communist regime while reassuring the international community, especially the US that it is a (rechristened) democratic force committed to change.

Among the early reform processes carried out by the EPRDF leadership, the June 1991 transitional national conference constitutes an important milestone to both shaping the trajectory of the democratization process as well as establishing EPRDFs dominance in the political system. In no more than a few weeks in to power, EPRDF leaders summoned ethnic parties to a national conference which would lay the institutional foundation for the envisaged political system in the country. The conference was attended by close to 30 ethnic parties, and resulted in the adoption of a Transitional National Charter (TNC), the formation of an 87-member Council of Representatives (CoR), and the establishment of the Transitional Government of Ethiopia (TGE) (ICG, 2009).

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According to Aalen (2002), the conference had been especially significant to EPRDF for it served as a major vehicle to legitimize the party as well as institutionalize and implement its doctrines, programs and visions in the broader political system. Yet, as much as the Charters democratic, human rights and other liberal features have been commended, it was as well criticized for having institutionalized EPRDFs doctrine of ethnic federalism at the expense of other alternatives. For Merera (2011), the outcome amounted to a full endorsement of EPRDFs reformist agenda in redefining and governing the Ethiopian state.

The conferences political outcome was further criticized for the disproportionate allocation of seats in the unelected CoR in favor of EPRDF. In the views of Vestal (1996), the arrangement rendered legitimacy to a legislative-cum-executive dominance of TPLF/EPRDF in the TGE. Per the agreed seat share, 32 were assigned to EPRDF out of a total of 87 seats while only one other party, the Oromo Liberation Front (OLF), obtained 12 seats with the rest able to claim for a meager share ranging from 1 to 3 seats each (Aalen, 2002). EPRDFs power was further strengthened with its control of most cabinet positions in the executive including the position of the chief-executive (the interim president) as well as key cabinet posts such as defense and foreign affairs, facilitating the early emergence of one-party dominance. Many thus blame the ruling party for maneuvering the design of the process to suit its political ends. Vaughan (2003) notes that the process was exclusionary as pan-Ethiopianist parties had been denied participation in favor of weaker and sometimes phony ethnic parties. Similarly, Aalen (2002) criticizes the undemocratic nature of inter-party dialogues during the conference, implicating the EPRDF for purposefully discouraging meaningful discussion on critical issues such as ethnicity. As stated by Aalen (2002:41), the outcome of the transitional conference, the transitional charter, is therefore more a result of an agenda predetermined by the EPRDF rather than a pact between all the organizations that participated in the conference.

After the establishment of the TGE following the conference, a two pronged-strategy was employed by the party to entrench its dominance. While a strategy to expand party dominance to new areas had been employed on the one hand, a pre-emptive tactic was used to suppress parties growing to constitute a threat on the other (Wondwessen, 2009). As such, the party mobilized to expand its support base in the South as well as other key areas and the peripheral regions of
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Ethiopia. The recruitment and cooptation of members of Ethnic groups in Southern Ethiopia, for instance, culminated in the establishment of SEPDF consisting of several ethnic parties in that part of the country. In addition, EPRDF satellite parties, that have been closely affiliated and monitored by it, were formed in all the four peripheral regions of Ethiopia, namely Somali, Afar, Gambella and Benishangul-Gumuz Regional States (Ibid: 9). According to Merera (2011: 7-8), EPRDFs approach reflects a strategy of manufacturing a political support base by creating controlled ethnic-based organizations for the various ethnic groups of the country.

On the contrary, ethnic-based parties, such as the OLF, which had been part of the TGE and which enjoyed extensive popular support, were ultimately forced to leave the government due allegedly to unlevel playing field and election rigging during the 1992 sub-national elections (Ibid). Several pan-Ethiopian parties as well boycotted elections during the time, and reported a curtailment to their political activities citing intimidation, detention and torturing of their members by EPRDF (Aalen, 2002).

Finally, a critical foundation to Ethiopias transition process and political future has been laid at the end of the transitional period with the adoption of the Ethiopian Constitution in 1995. The constitution has been hailed as the most democratic the country has ever owing to its standard provisions on democratic governance, human rights and rule of law. It was welcomed as a radical and innovative approach to ethnic management in multiethnic countries (Tronvoll, 2010).

Yet, it is at the same time criticized as a document largely reflective of EPRDFs interests and political philosophy, besides being a product of a flawed process under a less participatory and EPRDF-dominated environment. Vestal (1996), for example, makes a strong critique of the Ethiopian constitutional order from the analytical viewpoints of process as well as content. Based on his observation of the constitutions provisions, he concludes the Ethiopian constitution to be nominal and fictive (Vestal, 1996: 30). He characterizes the constitution as being descriptive and lacking provisions to enforce limits on government behavior. He therefore criticizes the document for its lack of commitment to constitutionalism, and its failure to reflect the preconstitutional principles of the mass of the people which he claims to have been replaced by EPRDFs ethnic ethic (Ibid: 31). With regard to the process of drafting, debating and ratifying
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the constitution, both Vestal (1996) and Aalen (2002) are of the view that the process has largely been exclusionary.

The significance of the foregoing analysis from the point of view of this study has to do with its value to explain how EPRDFs dominant position has been established and entrenched. Two important references could be made to justify the contribution of the constitution in creating asymmetric power relationships. The first concerns the unrestrained power of the executive which has been referred to in our analysis of the TNC earlier and whose practice further sanctioned in the constitution. Under the constitution, the executive has become a disproportionately powerful branch of the state with a prime minister enjoying extensive powers as head of the cabinet, head of the government and commander-in-chief of the army. Quite contrary to both logic and empirics, the EPRDF-dominated House of Peoples Representatives further passed a legislation in 2008 to transfer its power to the executive. The bill which was enacted to define the Powers and Duties of the Executive Organs of the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia (Proclamation No. 471/2005) willingly handed over the power of the legislative to form, restructure or dissolve government entities to the executive, making the executive even more powerful (Abbink, 2009:16). Secondly, the constitution provides for politically autonomous regional states but with meager revenue generating powers, and hence financially dependent on the center. This paradoxical arrangement puts regional governments at the mercy of the federal government, and facilitates a de facto centralization of power with the attendant political dominance of the ruling party.

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CHAPTER FIVE 5. The Historical Legacy of TPLF/EPRDF and its Post Liberation Political Dominance: Is there a Link?
In the course of their protracted armed struggle against incumbents, rebel movements develop and/or adopt different ideological, organizational and operational instruments and practices depending on their specific environment and the nature of their struggle. Spiess (2009) makes a reference to the distinct political development trajectories and the political capital accumulated by liberation movements while explaining the significance of their legacies post-liberation. Similarly, Doorman (2006) points to the effect of pre-liberation ideologies, rules of governance, institutional forms and relations with society on the behavior of rebel movement-turned regimes post-liberation. As indicated in earlier sections, it has been an insurmountable challenge for most to break from the past attesting to Friedman and Wong (2008:9) claim a partys past leaves an imprint on its future development. Accordingly, this chapter analyzes the ideological, organizational and governance legacies of TPLF to determine whether its legacy has relevance to understanding its current political dominance.


TPLF/EPRDF has its roots in the Ethiopian Student Movement (ESM) of the 1960s and early 1970s that raged throughout the country with a strong Marxist-Leninist fervor. Due to its strict following to certain variants of the Marxist school and its ethno-national orientation, TPLF is said to have founded its liberation struggle on three major ideological pillars, viz. the National Question, Democratic Centralism and Revolutionary Democracy (Vaughan, 2003; Aalen, 2002; Merera, 2011). The front has adapted and/or adopted principles premised on these conceptual pillars for use in the design of mobilization strategies, organizational structures, operational modalities and related functions during the course of the armed struggle. This section discusses the link between TPLFs legacy as a revolutionary Guerilla movement, and its current status and practices as a dominant party based on the three ideological pillars stated above. a) The National Question
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Studies indicate that ethnic conscious university students within ESM used to accord more emphasis on the National Question as a key political agenda whose resolution could only be envisaged through addressing the right of self determination to the oppressed Ethiopian nations and nationalities (Merera, 2011; Abbink, 2006). TPLF grew out of such M-L student groups, mainly the Tigray Student Association which had been keen on the National Question (Aregawi, 2004). The front has therefore adopted the Stalinist and Maoist approaches to the National Question premised on ethnic identity and ethno-national mobilization. According to Vaughan and Tronvoll (2003:117), TPLF employed ethnicity as a unit of political participation and representation to mobilize the Tigrayan peasantry whom it regarded as a homogenous mass with common needs, interests and political outlook.

The Stalinst approach, which was largely adhered to by TPLF, however, makes basic conceptual contradictions while addressing the national question as it employs both bottom-up and top-down perspectives in identifying and determining ethnicity (Ibid). Therefore, the Stalinist theorem not only served to advance TPLF/EPRDFs argument that ethnicity can be constructed by members of an ethnic group from within but also utilized to support the contradicting view that ethnicity could as well be determined by forces from without the concerned ethnic/social group, like itself.

As a result, voluntary integration and unity has become the bulwark of EPRDFs principle of ethnic federalism based on the premise: Marxist-Leninist advocacy for nationality self determination is intended to neutralize, not foster ethno-sub-national sentiment (Vaughan and Tronvoll, 2003:118). This viewpoint is especially significant owing to its use by the vanguard party, the EPRDF, to advance the claim that the party could bestow the right of self determination up on the different nations, nationalities and peoples of Ethiopia. TPLFs favored Stalinist solution to the National Question,- self determination, up to and including secession has thus become a guiding principle to reorganize the Ethiopian state (Asnake, 2010).

As such, ethnic federalism has provided a preferred strategy for the hegemonic aspirations of a vanguard party from a minority ethnic group. This is why Aalen (2002:48) considers the current federal arrangement as not only a way of maintaining unity, but also a means to overcome the

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Amhara hegemony and provide a structure in which the EPRDF could govern. According to her, the partys motive to create ethnic-based regional governments as well as ethnically-determined satellite parties emanates from its political weakness as a representative of a minority accounting for less than ten percent of the Ethiopian population.

In all, the aforementioned Stalinist ethno-nationalist ideology of the party has served two purposes. First, it guided the partys political ideology in defining and constructing Tigrayan ethno-nationalism (Aregawi, 2008). The ideology largely shaped the nature and scope of the struggle as an ethnic based and sub-nationally oriented movement on behalf of the Tigrayan nation. In the process, it gave rise to the early development of a vanguardist tradition within the TPLF, and its self-proclaimed status as a sole representative of the Tigrayan people (Vaughan and Tronvoll, 2003). It informed the partys early drive for political dominance in Tigray and its hostility and violent action against any competing political force in the province (Aregawi, 2008).

Secondly, the ideology has greatly shaped TPLFs strategy on class and mass political mobilization. TPLFs pragmatism on class and class relations in the then Tigray was partly a product of its ethno-national precepts. TPLF realized that the likelihood of success in the armed struggle hinged on its ability to mobilize a greater section of the Tigrayan society which was represented by the peasantry (accounting for roughly 90 per cent of the total population) (Young, 1994). For one thing, social stratification among the peasantry based on ownership of the means of production, and/or income level had been less prominent in the then Tigray (Aregawi, 2004). For another, an ideology based on class relations would have reduced the support base of the front by marginalizing specific groups. TPLF had therefore taken the peasantry as a homogenous mass and a foundation for its armed struggle based on the dictates of Maoism.

TPLF/EPRDF has continued to vigorously follow these same ideological principles in the postliberation era in order to ensure the continued support and loyalty of the peasantry to the party. Soon after holding the reigns of state power, it instituted national strategies and structures focused on the peasantry and the rural sector. Agricultural Development-Led Industrialization (ADLI) was introduced as the regimes core development Strategy based on the claim that it is the agricultural sector which has the potential to propel growth in other sectors, mainly industry
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(Zerihun, 2009). A recent report (2009:6) by the International Crisis Group (ICG) confirms the enduring claims of both TPLF and EPRDF as legitimate representatives of rural citizens who make up 84 per cent of the population. TPLF/EPRDF once again targeted the Ethiopian peasantry as its political support base. The organizational and programmatic aspects of peasant/rural mobilization will be discussed in the appropriate sections to come.

b) Democratic Centralism Besides the national question discussed above, the principle of democratic centralism constitutes an important ideological mainstay of the party critical to shaping TPLF/EPRDFs behavior and mode of operation for long. Studies indicate that TPLF/EPRDF has been excessively centralized, highly secretive, disciplinarian, and intolerant of differences and factionalism from its early days as a guerilla group (Aregawi, 2008; ICG, 2009, Aalen, 2002). Under a regime of democratic centralism, disagreements are a source of competition, not avenues for dialogue (Vaughan and Trenvoll, 2003:117-118). While pluralism is a means to an end, debate only constitutes an instrument for consensus. But criticism of decisions after consensus amounts to factionalism (ibid). According to ICG (2009:6), all major decisions in the party had been prerogatives of the executive and central committee members, whose practice it criticizes for forging a small, highly centralized, and secretive leadership that occasionally bordered on paranoid.

Studies indicate that this legacy has continued to dominate the partys practice to this date. Young (1997:211), for instance, points to the apparent lack of transparency at every echelon of the government structure in spite of the ready reference of the EPRDF leadership to democratic jargon. Vaughan (2003:157) on her part cites how EPRDF utilizes service delivery and local resource distribution to consolidate its grass roots support base through monopolizing collective goods provision while discouraging the participation of alternative providers such as civil society organizations as competitors.

Further, democratic centralism still appears to inform the management philosophy and organizational principles of the party. In conformity to the tradition of TPLF, EPRDF partner parties currently maintain similar structures, both horizontally and vertically, in which decisions

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are mainly taken at the center and flow down the hierarchy while information at lower echelons are relayed upwards for monitoring and intelligence purposes. As noted by Aalen (2002:54), the centralized EPRDF structure promotes upward accountability to the party organs above rather than downward accountability to the people of the region, Woreda (districts) and Kebele (grassroots administrations) Consequently, the party and the state appear fused to the extent that ones interest is taken to represent the others. It is highly revealing to refer to a statement made by a Kebele EPRDF official warning opposition supporters during the 2000 elections: Are you voting for the opposition? All right, ask your party to give you land. The constitution says the state owns rural land. We dont give land to those who are not loyal to us (Human Rights Watch Report, 2010). c) Revolutionary Democracy Finally, the principle of revolutionary democracy constitutes another important ideological philosophy which is rooted in TPLF/EPRDFs legacy as a M-L Guerilla movement, and is being advocated by it to maintain dominance. Abbink (2006) and Vaughan (2003) regard revolutionary democracy as an attempt by the EPRDF to justify its political dominance based on a Leninist ideology of socialist democracy which in significant ways diverges from that espoused by the liberal school. The approach purports that the mobilization potential and strong leadership of a vanguard party are critical for any successful development endeavor (ICG, 2009) while upholding the principles of popular democracy based on consensual representation and collective rights (Vaughan and Tronvoll, 2003:117). Per Abbinks (2006:23) view, TPLF/EPRDF as a vanguard party thus does not have an interest for a compromise with opposition forces because it is convinced that it has the solution for everything.

What follows from the M-L ideological variants of democratic centralism and revolutionary democracy is an organizational structure suited to a centralized command and control hierarchy which is largely suited for grass roots mobilization, control and hence one-party dominance. It is therefore vital to look in to the structural legacy of TPLF and its implication to the organizational philosophy, behavior, and domineering practices of the ruling TPLF/EPRDF in some detail in the following section.

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5.2.Organization and Operation In keeping with the principle of democratic centralism and precepts of a vanguard party, TPLFs pre-Derg organization reveals a highly centralized, vertically structured Marxist-Leninist party that regarded itself as destined not only to mobilize and lead the struggle of the Tigrayan people against Degr but also shape the social, economic and political life of people along M-L lines. As such, the party was structured to combine functions of mass political mobilization and control, armed struggle and the delivery of collective public goods (see Figure 1 below). A brief discussion on the structural and operational features of TPLF would help to understand how the partys organizational legacy influenced its current organizational framework and its drive for political dominance. Figure 5.1. Organizational Chart of TPLF, 1979

Central Committee Polit Bureau Political Committee Cultural D Propoganda D Security D PR D Mass Org D Foreign Aff. D Millitary Committee Intelligence D Training D Logistics D Agit. Prop D Militia Regular Forces Socioeconomic Comittee Health Supply Agriculture Technique Education

Source: Aregawi (2008)

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As could be seen from the figure, the structure depicts a 4-tier hierarchy with the supreme decision making organ being the congress. The Congress is composed of elected members from fighters and representatives of TPLF-affiliated mass associations (youth, peasants, merchants, women and workers) and convenes every two years. The Central Committee (CC) and Audit Committee (AC) members (although not indicated in the 1979 structure) were elected by the congress. The CC which consisted of 31 members enjoyed considerable powers as a central decision making organ between congresses while the nine-member Polit Bureau mainly engaged in the day-to-day management of the partys affairs (Aregawi, 2008). The three committees down the hierarchy involved CC members as staff, and each were led by member of a Polit Bureau. Departments constituted functional units in charge of implementing and coordinating activities, and largely tied with local cadre-dominated and supervised local administration structures.

Based on Youngs (1994) and Aregawis (2008) studies on the history of TPLF, it could be witnessed that the partys organizational structure was intended to maintain the political dominance and strong grip of the party on society. Firstly, as noted by Young (1994), TPLF was able to utilize a comprehensive organizational approach/design to include relief, governance and local socioeconomic functions which were critical to win grass roots support besides structures focused on the war effort. In this case, Aregawi (2008) is of the view that the efficacy of the movements mobilizational endeavors could be partly explained by the utilization of patronage strategies made possible by the provision of collective public goods for rural communities in TPLF controlled territories.

TPLFs socioeconomic committee had been engaged in supplying relief and providing agricultural extension services to farmers with its agricultural development programs ultimately leading to the creation of the Relief Society of Tigray (RST), the partys development and relief NGO-wing, in 1979 (Segers et. al., 2008). This vanguardist approach helped to imbue a perception that the party was not only the legitimate force to lead the struggle but also govern Tigray. The organizational and operational portfolio of TPLF embodied the comprehensive missions of a movement with roles as a legitimate liberator, a de facto government and representative of the Tigrayan nation state. Societal control and hence dominance was partly
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achieved through contractarian strategies to ensure grass roots support. TPLF was almost able to create a state with in a state in accordance with its reformist agenda.

Secondly, TPLFs structural features as well as operational methods were firmly grounded on a strong cadre network stretching down to the grassroots level (Vaughan and Tronvoll, 2003). As observed by Aregawi (2008), the party had cultivated and extensively utilized a large army of cadres to achieve the twin objectives of mobilization and control in Tigray during the time of the struggle. Most departments under the three branches except those charged with pure combat roles, were designed to serve considerable mobilisational functions through the guidance and supervision of cadres at different levels of the party as well as public administration structures.

Four of the six departments under the powerful political wing of the party especially constituted the nucleus of the effort through their roles in shaping the organizational, political and cultural aspects of mobilization and control. The acclaimed cadre school of the movement, which was established under the Propaganda Department and once led by the current Prime Minister of Ethiopia, had been instrumental in beefing up the cadre base, and hence augmenting the mobilisational capacity of the party (Young, 1994). The other significant unit, the Mass Organization department had served as a crucial operational arm and an interface between the party and its affiliated mass organizations as well as local administrations. It was responsible for organizing and directing both mass associations and local administrative units (Aregawi, 2008). The Cultural and Public Relations departments were also highly instrumental in shaping and promoting TPLFs ethno-nationalistic rhetoric and its image as a liberator. The Political Affairs Committee in general and the above units in particular played a key role in the development and management of the cadre network, and its operation within the local public administration hierarchy.

As such, the party structure was able to pervade society throughout Tigray by embedding itself deep in to the village level through local cells which Vaughan (2003:27) regards as highly critical for the party on two grounds: the cadre-network facilitates a firm representation by the party and presentation of its ideology at the grassroots, on the one hand, and on the other, it supplies the party with grassroots information and (less positive observers claim) intelligence.
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Internal democracy within the organization had been severely curtailed due to the highly centralized structure and secretive nature of the organization. This resulted in the concentration of power in the hands of a few elite at the center, especially few notables in the Central Committee and Polit Bureau. Aregawi (2008:218), for example, recounts an organizational practice in which a CC member had been entitled to preside over and pass any verdict against a perceived wrong doer. According to him, if an individual was reported to have harbored an opposition against the TPLF in the then Tigray, the individuals case had to be ultimately adjudicated by a CC member who had the power to pass any verdict against him/her. He further provides an evidence-based account of how the Stalinist tendencies of the top TPLF leadership revealed through their repeated use of purgatory and execution tactics to punish dissent (Ibid: 235). As a result, organizational practices of leadership alternation and the cultivation of new leaders constituted the exception while the monopolization of power remained to be the norm.

The TPLF is known for its institutionalization of a management technique called Gimgema in Amharic (self/evaluation) from its early days as a guerilla movement. Gimgema was initially used for evaluating the effectiveness of combat strategies and operations of the TPLF, and has been adopted to evaluate politicians/cadres and administrators since then (Aalen, 2002). Aalen makes note of diverging views on the merits of gimgema. She makes a reference to both favorable and unfavorable views towards the practice as an essential instrument of promoting transparency and democracy on the one hand while being criticized as a tool to remove people from their jobs on the other. Based on her findings, however, she regards gimgema to be an instrument in the hands of the party elite to discipline the lower party cadres and bureaucrats and make them loyal to the central party line (Ibid: 88). Similarly, an ICG report (2009:18) observes that party loyalty and interests weigh stronger than a popular endorsement in party evaluation sessions. Aregawi (2008) details, among others, how the current PM of Ethiopia, Meles Zenawi used gimgema manipulatively to remove himself (Aregawi) as the then commander of the TPLF army, and Gidey ZereaTsion as a chairperson of the TPLF in 1985, to bring himself to power.

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It is especially befitting to note that TPLFs management practice is strictly in line with the principles of the Maoist party discipline. According to the Maoist school, party discipline is dictated by a hierarchy of four subordination-based precepts (Mao, 1965:203). The first two principles require the subordination of the individual to the organization, and that of the minority to the will of the majority respectively. The third dictates the unquestioned submission of the lower level to the whims of the higher while the fourth requires the subordination of the entire membership to the central committee. As these principles are meant to be strictly adhered to by the party members, whoever violates these articles of discipline disrupts party unity (Ibid: 203).

On the basis of TPLFs practices, namely the monopoly of power by the elite central committee; the partys top-down management practices; the primacy of the organization over any individual purposes, as well as the majoritarian-consensual decision making styles, it is possible to conclude TPLFs organizational and management philosophy had been largely shaped by the dictates of the Maoist school. The party elites generally assign themselves double responsibilities as the vanguard of the party as well as of the Tigrayan masses (ICG, 2009). After the formation of MLLT in 1985, the partys domineering, secretive and authoritarian tendency has further been strengthened (Young, 1994). In the name of party discipline and cohesion, a culture of extremism and a cult of personality had been promoted (ICG, 2009). In all, it would not be difficult to observe the legacy of a vanguard party with inbuilt organizational and operational mechanisms to control, shape and direct the political, economic and social aspects of public life.

Despite holding the reins of power for the last 20 years, however, TPLF has not only retained its earlier organizational features but also utilized its experience to design EPRDF and its constituent PDOs. A relatively similar organizational framework, principle and practice to that of pre-liberation TPLF has currently been adopted by EPRDF and its member parties. Analysts largely invoke the path-dependency thesis to explain the lack of progress in TPLF/EPRDFs transformation from a guerilla movement to a political party. Some point to the inability and/or unwillingness of the party to shake itself off the M-L philosophy that largely defined its decision making, organizational principles and discourse (ICG, 2009). Others argue it could well be in the interest of the party to maintain its structural features if it had to continue to dominate state power and deny ground for its competitors (Vaughuan and Torell, 2003; Aalen, 2002).
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In view of the persistence of TPLFs pre-liberation organizational imperatives within the current TPLF as well as EPRDF structures, it is possible to make three related observations. Like the TPLF before it, the ruling TPLF/EPRDF has adopted a centralized organizational framework based on a cadre network to ensure its political dominance. For instance, the ruling coalition has a sixty-member central committee with extensive decision making powers; a 20 member executive council for managing the partys day-to-day activities; and a party congress as the highest authority convening every other year (Aalen, 2002). The four EPRDF parties have councils equivalent to central committees and executives at each level of administration, at the regional level, in the woreda and the kebele. These party organs are responsible and accountable to the party bodies in the hierarchy above them. Orders are dispatched from the top to the lower levels, and information about activities on the lower levels are forwarded upwards through the hierarchy to the top (Ibid). Except differences in size, it is possible to conclude the coalition and its members could be regarded as structural replicas of the TPLF. Decision making power is concentrated at the center, i.e. central committee and executive committee levels, and the remaining tiers down the hierarchy are expected to execute plans and programs. This is why the centralized party structure of EPRDF is being criticized as an obstacle to the institutionalization of a genuine decentralized federal framework (Merera, 2007).

Second, EPRDF has emulated TPLFs pre-liberation structural imperatives which had been adopted by the party for purposes of mobilization and control. As indicated in earlier sections, the ruling party has been very active in co-opting ethnic entrepreneurs in all major ethno-national regions, and in politicizing ethnicity to form representative PDOs as members of EPRDF (Merera, 2011). As such, it was able to expand its support base, and ensure political control at the grass roots level.

The structures to operationalize its mobilisational activities are grounded in a hierarchy of cadre networks that work within and in parallel with all administrative tiers. As indicated by Aalen (2002), the same party executives or cadres occupy both administrative/technocratic positions and political ones. Extra constitutional, parallel arrangements such as regional affairs bureaus at regional levels have been created by the ruling party for monitoring and controlling purposes
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(Ibid). At the same time, cadre-based local party structures, affiliated-mass organizations as well as grass roots and neighborhood party cells belonging to the ruling EPRDF has pervaded society. According to Poluha (1997:46), residents of every peasant association and every kebele (the lowest administrative units in rural and urban localities respectively) in Ethiopia elect and sponsor the training of 12 EPRDF cadres each to form a local political vanguard group whose duty is to guide and lead the population. The TPLFs experience on cadre policy and its reliance on an extended cadre network have continued to inform the approaches of the ruling TPLF/EPRDF.

Third, TPLFs pre-liberation adherence to the promotion and establishment of ethnically defined (regional) parties has continued to inform the ruling TPLF/EPRDFs organizational logic in the post-liberation era. From the very outset, TPLF/EPRDF has followed a policy of marginalizing and weakening multi-national parties as could be evidenced from its early decision to prohibit pan-Ethiopia parties such as EPRP and the All-Ethiopia Socialist Movement (MEISON) from participating in the 1991 transitional national conference. The party has since promoted ethno political formations while suppressing pan-Ethiopian groups as anti-establishment and reactionary with an alleged purpose of weakening competitors and maintaining its dominance (Merera, 2011).

5.3.The Legacy of Governance in Liberated Areas

As noted earlier in the theoretical discussion, dominance is an attribute mainly defined within the context of interaction. The vertical interaction of a political party to a society thus constitutes an important dimension to determine the nature of its relationships with constituencies whom it administers, or ethnic groups/social classes whose interests it stands to advance. Based on this perspective, this section attempts to assess TPLFs approaches and mechanisms of local governance, and its interaction with local structures and societies in Tigray in the pre-liberation period. This is done by looking in to the institutional, operational and interactive aspects of TPLFs engagement with local administrative structures and communities.

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In broader conceptual terms, governance comprises of all relations between state and societyfrom the means of articulating and reconciling needs and expectations, to mechanisms of service delivery-or the entire social contract (OECD, 2008:36). As such, effective social contract implies mechanisms, processes and institutions of governance created through processes of contestation and deal making between state and society (Ibid: 36). Given this conceptual background, it appears vital to assess the structures and functions of newly formed local governance institutions; the mechanisms and processes employed in building these institutions as well as the relationship that existed between these structures, TPLF, and society at large in pre1991 Tigray.

The TPLF had a legacy of forming parallel local administrative, political and civil society organizations vertically linked to it in areas under its control (See Fig. 2 below). These local institutions include peoples councils (Baitos), mass associations and cadre networks at different levels. Whereas the peoples councils mainly served administrative and governance functions, the mass associations and cadre structures were largely utilized for mass mobilization and control purposes (Young, 1994). As noted by Aregawi (2008), however, all were conceived, structured and operated to achieve TPLFs principal purposes of agitating, organizing and arming the people to win the struggle against the then government. Given the prevailing poverty and conflict situation, these structures had been understandably weak with loosely differentiated or blurred boundaries characterized by formal and informal horizontal interactions with one another as well as vertical linkages with TPLF.

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Figure 5.2. Local Administration, Mass Association and Cadre Structures, and their links with TPLF Mass Organisation Department (TPLF)

Zonal Councils District Cadre

Mass Associations

District Councils

Public Works Committee Administration Comittee Social Affairs Committee

Mass Associations

Tabia Tribunal Councils Chairman Militia

Source: Adaptated from Aregawi (2008)

a) Mass Associations

Let us first look at mass associations from the trio of structures portrayed in the above figure. In the then TPLF-controlled territories of Tigray, membership in one and/or multiple mass associations such as peasant, women and youth was compulsory (Gebru, 1991). Thus, every member of the local community except those that fall below the minimum age bracket were organized under one or more category, the largest being peasant associations. These entities were organized at Tabia (village) and Woreda (district) levels. Each association had a constitution prepared by TPLF, and led by a central committee selected from among its members (Ibid). As these entities were organized and supervised by TPLF, they were dominated and led by local cadres and cadre cells that were linked to the hierarchy of cadre structures above them (Aregawi, 2008). They were thus subject to supervision by a senior cadre at the district level, and may also

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report and receive orders from TPLFs mass organization department directly depending on the prominence and urgency of tasks.

According to Gebru (1991), mass associations constituted not only the foundation of TPLFs objectives of mass mobilization but also instruments of political domination and control. First, the associations created a suitable forum for TPLFs ethno-nationalist propaganda, and the recruitment of an active grass roots army of cadres that ensured increased dissemination of its political teachings besides raising its capacity of intelligence gathering. Second, they helped to broaden the pool of politically agitated youth volunteering to join TPLFs army. This is especially critical for TPLF had been confronted with a critical shortage of army enlistees by the end of 1970s and early 1980s (Young, 1994).

Thirdly, the front was, among others, able to undermine the prominence of other competing social forces and indigenous structures using mass organizations. Aregawi (2008) notes how TPLF utilized peasant associations to undermine the role of elders in society (in conflict resolution, provision of moral and practical guidance, imposing societal sanctions etc.) which it perceived to go against its objectives of control and supremacy at the grassroots level. Most importantly, these associations were vehicles to ensure TPLFs domination and control in local administrative structures. A very illustrative case in point here is the formation of Woreda (district) administrations. Woreda councils were formed from council members elected by an assembly of representatives drawn from members of all Tabia (village level) mass associations under the concerned district, in which case many of the elected representatives were active TPLF cadres (Gebru, 1991).

b) Local Councils

Local administrative councils, on the other hand, constituted three tier structures at Tabia (village), Woreda (district) and Zone levels. Village and Woreda administrations had councils selected from villagers and association representatives respectively based on constitutions provided to each by TPLF, and were active in the delivery of collective public goods such as security, justice and other economic and social services besides their big roles in political
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mobilization (Young, 1994). Zonal councils took varied structures and formations as they were mainly used to coordinate and supervise functions by lower level units, and were directly supervised by the Mass Associations department of the TPLF.

c) Cadre Network

The other structure which was less visible but more powerful and dominant was the cadre network which had pervaded the entire local structure and assumed active leadership role in every unit. Besides an active cell embedded in each unit across the hierarchy, the Kifle Hizbi (senior cadre) enjoyed a power ranging from supervision through to overriding decisions by the councils (Vaughan, 2003). She/he represented TPLFs chief field officer and formal representative linking the various local administrative, political and social structures to the party. She/he was the one to organize, mange and supervise the local cadre cell, and entrusted to weld an effective cadre network for mobilization and control purposes. As such, the Kifle Hizbi ensured cadre cells controlled community; and intelligence was delivered to the upper strata.

In all, the structural features of local governance institutions were not results of contestation and negotiation between TPLF and local communities. They were imposed from the above by TPLF, and guided by its Maoist principles and its central objective of winning the war. Although local people involved in elections and participated in decision making process, it was often manipulated and hijacked by embedded cadres and loyalists (Aregawi, 2004). A decision taken by TPLF to raise the minimum school age from 6 to 12 could be a good case in point. Although farmers in Tigray wanted to send their younger children to schools at the time as they needed their older children for support in agricultural activities, TPLF insisted on only admitting older ones from age 12 to schools for it wanted to use schools as breeding ground for youth army enlistees (Young, 1994; Aregawi, 2008). In the end, schools only admitted older boys for education. Per Maos dictum, every individual had to submit to the party and its causes.

Over all, the party had mainly employed approaches involving organization and indoctrination, (de) incentivization, neutralization and subordination in its engagement with society. Local administrative and political structures were utilized to indoctrinate and mobilize people besides
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their function on control. Incentive structures such as policy reforms, service provisions and measures of empowerment served to either entice or dissuade society vis--vis decisions favored by TPLF. Steps were taken to neutralize the influence of powerful societal forces/institutions such as churches for the only force that was entitled to dominate and control society was TPLF and only TPLF (Aregawi, 2008). Therefore, the mechanisms, processes and institutions of local governance put in place by the party as well as its relations with society had been utilized to ensure the subordination of all societal forces to the party. TPLF was almost able to create a state with in a state in accordance with its reformist vision.

These same reformist and hegemonic political practices of TPLF characterize the current governance approaches of the ruling TPLF/EPRDF and its interaction with society. TPLF/EPRDFs centralized party rule continues to antagonize and jeopardize the decentralized federal framework in Ethiopia. All regions are governed by EPRDF and its affiliated parties which operate per directives received from the center, making their autonomy nominal (Aalen, 2002). TPLF/EPRDFs cadre network and party structure pervade and dominate state structures at all levels. Studies have made repeated observations on the blurring of boundaries between party and state in Ethiopia, and control of the masses through grass roots state structures and party cells. The practice of using mass organizations as political tools of mobilization and control has continued unabated in the two decades of TPLF/EPRDF rule. A number of policy measures and accountability mechanisms have been tied to objectives of party dominance and monopoly of political power. Some critics link the ruling partys refusal to revise key policies such as Agricultural Development Led Industrialization (ADLI), and its regulation on the state ownership of land with TPLF/EPRDFs reliance on these policies to subjugating the Ethiopian peasantry to the party (Zerihun, 2009; Merera, 2007).

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The ruling TPLF/EPRDF has dominated Ethiopian politics for more than two decades since 1991. The partys grip on power has been absolute by all measures and at all times. Electorally, it continues to enjoy absolute legislative majorities and full control over the executive. Governmentally, it has had monopoly over policy making, reform and change processes as well as public discourse. As to its bargaining position, both its vertical and horizontal interactions with societal, state and political actors have been characterized by highly asymmetrical relationships skewed in favor of the party. Following its takeover of power through Guerilla warfare, it effectively utilized its incumbency advantage as well as its military and political prowess to institutionalize its political dominance and pursue its reformist vision. The party has been able to impose its programs and visions through such institutional mechanisms as the Transitional National Charter and the 1995 Ethiopian Constitution beginning the early stages of the transition process. It failed to effect a pacted transition. In all, the paper has provided sufficient ground to conclude the current political system in Ethiopia epitomizes an enduring one-party dominance. Up on conservative standards, the system could further be categorized as one bordering on the hegemonic authoritarian category; or still as one symptomatic of a de facto one-party state.

TPLFs history as a Marxist-Leninist Guerilla movement reveals a vanguard ethno-nationalist front with ideological, organizational and governance legacies that are quintessential to the practices and behaviors of a dominant political group. Over the course of the protracted Guerilla warfare, the front utilized a number of ideological, structural and operational tools to mobilize society for a war effort whose means as well as end had been solely determined by itself. It worked to silence and/or punish alternative ideologies/views, as well as neutralize and/or defeat any political/social force perceived to compete with it. It maintained a centralized and hierarchical internal institutional structure in which the excessive concentration of power at the top created an internal power monopoly while the entire membership was subordinated to the dictates of the elite central committee. In areas under its control, TPLF created hierarchically organized local governance and civic structures which were subordinated and affiliated to it. Whereas the design of these local structures as well as their supervision was carried out by the
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front, their ranks were heavily dominated by TPLF members. Further, it penetrated local community structures and embedded itself in grass roots constituencies through neighborhood cadre cells and networks besides its societal control through the compulsory membership of residents in diverse mass associations. It overall utilized both coercive and contractual strategies to ensure its political dominance.

The study indicates much has not changed during the past two decades despite TPLFs change of status from a revolutionary rebel movement to a ruling coalition (EPRDF). The ideological precepts of the party on the National Question, democratic centralism and revolutionary democracy remain critical now as much as they were then. They continue to shape both the organizational philosophy and the interaction of the party with society and other forces. Whereas the national question mainly served to inform TPLFs ethno-national ethic, its function this time has broadened to encompass the basic conceptual referents of ethnic federalism. As such, the ideology has provided for an easy identification and definition of ethnicity by TPLF/EPRDF, and its current ethnic federalist venture.

More importantly, it constitutes a mile stone for TPLF/EPRDFs strategy of ethnic congress, and its absolute dominance via the formation of coalition-member as well as affiliate parties across ethnically-defined regions. Similarly, TPLF/EPRDFs current use of the principles of democratic centralism has resulted in a de facto centralized state in the context of a de jury federal framework in which the ruling party dominates all political spaces, structures, processes and functions. The ideological tool of revolutionary democracy has long been invoked by TPLF/EPRDF to justify the need for state-led growth and a strong (vanguard) party which it claims to be critical for its developmental and transformational missions. Variants of the M-L philosophy have thus been instruments of TPLF/EPRDFs dominance now as much as they constituted ideological tools of TPLF then.

Similarly, the war time TPLF and the ruling TPLF/EPRDF exhibit almost similar organizational, operational and governance practices which have been instrumental for the partys dominance. In keeping with its M-L organizational imperatives, TPLF/EPRDF emulated the vertical structures, centralized decision making practices and cadre based frameworks of the war-time TPLF. The
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culture of intolerance to factionalism and the demand for unwavering loyalty to the party and its top leadership still constitute key organizational traits of the ruling TPLF/EPRDF as they were to the per-liberation era TPLF. TPLF then utilized the strategy of mobilization and control for rallying the Tigrayan masses behind its war effort. The incumbent TPLF/EPRDF currently pursues the same strategy through partner and affiliate party cadre structures throughout the country to mobilize grassroots support and ensure loyalty to it. The practice of TPLF to monopolize power; subordinate society and local governance accountability mechanisms and structures to party interests continues to this day by the ruling TPLF/EPRDF post liberation.

In all, the thesiss revelation is that the ruling TPLF/EPRDF has remained a victim of its own legacy. Two key causal links could be identified here. One has to do with the behavior of TPLF as a reform movement whose central objective has remained state building. Such political forces allege their enduring derive for dominance not only on their mission to rebuild the state but also their indispensability to maintain the new political order. For TPLF/EPRDF, political dominance is not only a means to achieve its ends but also an end in itself in the interest of ensuring party continuity and survival. More importantly, war is a worthy investment for reformist movements like TPLF, and vested interests in their ranks. It could be the case that TPLF/EPRDF has been in pursuit of political dominance to realize its reform projects, and reap a good return from its investment on the war project which are in turn critical to its claim and practice for dominance.

The second relates to the political weakness of TPLF as a representative of a minority ethnic group in Ethiopia. Contrary to its M-L philosophy, TPLF, from the outset, pursued a class-blind strategy focused on the mass mobilization of the Tigrayan people owing mainly to the minority status of its constituency. After taking state power, TPLF/EPRDF utilized this ethnic-based formula to weaken multinational parties while making the cooptation of ethnic parties to its congress coalition easier. As such, TPLFs derive for political dominance has also been informed by the minority status of its Tigrayan constituency.

Consequently, the studys two hypothesis that link both TPLFs reform-orientation and its narrow support base/minority representation with the current political dominance of the ruling TPLF/EPRDF are found to be valid, significant!
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