The 6th National Election: Harbinger New Democratic Political Order in Ethiopia.
Election is not something new in Ethiopia. All the previous elections conducted over the last 50 years in this country were melodramas at the ballot box. Election was a buzz word used to camouflage selection of persons who were either rich or closer to the royal family.
The Derge used sham elections to place members of the ruling party as candidates for seats in the parliament. The EPRDF was no better as rigged elections were a common place in all the 5 rounds of elections.
The parliaments were filled with sleepy MPs who were voting on issues that they have not discussed in depth. The executive section of the government over powered the legislature and the judiciary trampling with the very essence of democracy. Nonetheless, elections were always marred with conflicts and endless polemics.
The upcoming Ethiopian national election is conducted in the context of socio-economic and political reforms as well as shaping and preparing to implement a home grown 10-year national economic plan.
The national election is the first decisive step in promoting a democratic political system in which the government is expected to be accountable to the peoples of Ethiopia. A representative political order will be established as a socio-political contract between the electorate and the government.
The 6th National Election is, indeed, an exercise in a democratic system vested in the constitution of the country. However, it is obvious that the forthcoming election will not be a dress rehearsal on a red carpet. Those who were calling for launching of the election amidst the proliferation of COVID-19 are now suggesting that the election should not take place because of absence of peace in the country.
It is true that peace is a major precondition for any election but peace cannot be dished out to all parties without their participation in ascertaining peace in Ethiopia.
The adversaries of peaceful development of this country are already laboring from dawn to dusk to sabotage the election and replace it with a total chaotic war situation similar to Syria and Iraq. Sudan and Egypt are already nervously sponsoring all local gangster and terrorist organizations operating in Ethiopia.
The complaints that have been forwarded on the federal system and the constitution can only ratified through a nationwide election and the upcoming election sets a proper legal ground for such far reaching political reforms.
Although the next election is purely a national issue, it is highly detrimental for further promoting amicable foreign diplomatic relations at regional, continental level and beyond. This election is also a must for the inflow of foreign direct investment (FDI) into the country and for promotion of trade relations with countries across the world.
An elected government has far more responsibilities to carry out both at the national and international level. A government elected by the people is far more respected and trusted than any other form of political power.
Participating on the next national election is part of a decision-making process to determine which of the competing parties would take a political power to lead the country over the next five years. At the individual level it might seem to be negligible but a single ballot cast in favor of a party could make a massive difference both at the local and federal levels.
The voice of the public matters at all the levels of the electoral process as an important component of democracy, the rule of law and good governance.
As stated earlier, the national election that is just at the corner will be conducted under the backdrop of the ramifications of internal and external security issues, COVID-19 pandemic and pressure from some global powers on Ethiopia to change the course of political developments in favor of major powers.
Lack of meaningful cooperation between the competing political parties and their inability to have an in-depth political cognition of the objective reality in the country has already raised complaints from the electorate regarding the policy priorities and strategies that the parties would pursue if elected.
Quite a substantial number of foreign and local observers will monitor and deliver their reports on the credibility of the upcoming election. Observers are in no way expected to be biased on the entire scenario at the polling stations and should refrain from interfering into the deliberations of the elections.
Observers may have their own political views as citizens but they are not supposed to pause as supporters of any of the competing political parties. The rules and regulations issued by the National Electoral Board of Ethiopia (NEBE) regarding the role of the observers will help to streamline not only the legitimacy of the actual election at the polling stations but also on issues related to safety and security of the electorate at the polling stations.
What would the peoples of Ethiopia expect from the results of the next national election? In the first place, the country will have a more stable political order which would help to increase public optimism and confidence on the legislature and government that would be formed.
It is also hoped that the reform program will focus on the major bottlenecks of the national economy with particular reference to unemployment and galloping inflation.
A government which is accountable to the electorate will have a better political atmosphere for addressing the needs of the poor and marginalized section of the society.
By and large, the newly formed government will be in a better position to introduce constitutional reforms and to address issues of ethnic identity and internal border issues in a more legal and acceptable manner based on the will of the peoples.
Unlike previous practices, it is hoped that the new government will promote public participation from grassroots level up to the federal government on major issues that concern the livelihood of the population.
It is hoped that the multi-national government will have deeper relations with competing parties and ensure their public participation in the affairs of government, social issues and generation of new and workable ideas and strategies.
The legislative body to be formed after the election is also expected to be the first of its kind in that the competing political parties will have a reasonable number of seats in the House of Peoples’ Representatives (HPR) and the House of Federation (HoF). This will clearly show the multi-party nature of the highest body of state power in the country.
Furthermore, the HPR is also expected to maintain gender parity so that issues related to younger, women, mothers and their children will gain prominence.
The government to be formed after the election would be able to promote peace and reconciliation among different ethnic groups in the country and would mobilize citizens and citizens of Ethiopian origin on a comprehensive program of nation building.