Reconfiguring Ethiopia: The Politics of Authoritarian Reform
Edited by Jon Abbink, Tobias Hagmann
Routledge – 2013 – 232 pages
This book takes stock of political reform in Ethiopia and the transformation of Ethiopian society since the adoption of multi-party politics and ethnic federalism in 1991. Decentralization, attempted democratization via ethno-national representation, and partial economic liberalization have reconfigured Ethiopian society and state in the past two decades. Yet, as the contributors to this volume demonstrate, ‘democracy’ in Ethiopia has not changed the authority structures and the culture of centralist decision-making of the past. The political system is tightly engineered and controlled from top to bottom by the ruling Ethiopian Peoples’ Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF). Navigating between its 1991 announcements to democratise the country and its aversion to power-sharing, the EPRDF has established a de facto one-party state that enjoys considerable international support. This ruling party has embarked upon a technocratic ‘developmental state’ trajectory ostensibly aimed at ‘depoliticizing’ national policy and delegitimizing alternative courses. The contributors analyze the dynamics of authoritarian state-building, political ethnicity, electoral politics and state-society relations that have marked the Ethiopian polity since the downfall of the socialist Derg regime. Chapters on ethnic federalism, 'revolutionary democracy', opposition parties, the press, the judiciary, state-religion, and state-foreign donor relations provide the most comprehensive and thought-provoking review of contemporary Ethiopian national politics to date.
This book is based on a special issue of the Journal of Eastern African Studies.
1. Twenty years of revolutionary democratic Ethiopia, 1991 to 2011 2. Ethnic-based federalism and ethnicity in Ethiopia: reassessing the experiment after 20 years 3. Revolutionary democratic state-building: party, state and people in the EPRDF’s Ethiopia 4. Abyotawi democracy: neither revolutionary nor democratic, a critical review of EPRDF’s conception of revolutionary democracy in post-1991 Ethiopia 5. The (un)making of opposition coalitions and the challenge of democratization in Ethiopia, 1991-2011 6. Separation of powers and its implications for the judiciary in Ethiopia 7. The press and the political restructuring of Ethiopia 8. Decentralization to the household: expansion and limits of state power in rural Oromiya 9. EPRDF’s revolutionary democracy and religious plurality: Islam and Christianity in post-Derg Ethiopia 10. Overlapping nationalist projects and contested spaces: the Oromo 11. Aid negotiation: the uneasy ‘‘partnership’’ between EPRDF and the donors
Jon Abbink, Ph.D. in social anthropology (1985), is Senior Researcher at the African Studies Centre, Leiden, and Research Professor of African Studies at VU University, Amsterdam, the Netherlands. He recently co-edited of Land, Law and Politics in Africa. Mediating Conflict and Reshaping the State (Brill, 2011) and The Anthropology of Elites(Palgrave, 2012).
Tobias Hagmann, Ph.D. in public administration (2007), is Associate Professor in International Development at Roskilde University in Denmark. He is co-editor of Contested Power in Ethiopia: Traditional Authorities and Multi-Party Elections (Brill, 2012) and Negotiating Statehood: Dynamics of Power and Domination in Africa (Wiley Blackwell, 2011).