Electoral campaigns are essential aspects of election. However, opposition political parties in Ethiopia have been challenged due to limited media alternative. In the 2015 general election, some political parties were using social media to conduct campaigns. Hence, this case study aimed to describe the status of these parties in the use of social media. The research utilized a qualitative approach as dominant method. Blue Party, Ethiopian Democratic Party (EDP), and Ethiopian People Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF) were selected purposefully because they were active in social media use. In-depth interview, focus group discussions, and social media contents were used to collect data. The study used thematic analysis with a quantitative content analysis. The result revealed that political parties were introducing electoral symbols, policies, offline campaigns, and profiles of candidates through social media though there were discrepancies among them. The language predominantly used was Amharic that covers an average of 98% of the total messages. In terms of the mediums used, the study found that political parties were mainly releasing their messages through texts and a combination of texts and images. These two mediums cover an average of 77%. These imply the parties’ concomitance with the interest of the audiences. Generally, despite the use of social media to conduct campaigns is at its infant stage, the political parties dedication to use as well as their view on the potential of these media indicate that social media are becoming alternative channels of electoral campaigns in Ethiopia.
Key words: Social media, political parties, Ethiopia, 2015 general election, electoral campaigns,
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