African Journal of
Political Science and International Relations

  • Abbreviation: Afr. J. Pol. Sci. Int. Relat.
  • Language: English
  • ISSN: 1996-0832
  • DOI: 10.5897/AJPSIR
  • Start Year: 2007
  • Published Articles: 366

Article in Press

The Grand Missed Opportunities for Change in the Modern Ethiopian Political History: Lesson to be learnt for Contemporary Democratic Transition

Gashaw Ayferam Endaylalu

  •  Received: 27 June 2019
  •  Accepted: 11 May 2020
Ethiopia has lost five golden opportunities, often called as ‘missed chances’ and ‘grand failure’ by Donald Levine and MereraGudina respectively. Now Ethiopia has got its six golden opportunities. Nevertheless, do the current democratic transition will success /bring democratic consolidation/ or fail/reversion to authoritarianism/ remains an elusive forever. This article, therefore, attempted to examine the lesson to be taken into consideration from the five successful Grand Failures so as to ensure the successful transition of current political reform the country undergone. The study employed qualitative research approach in which data are gathered through document review and analyzed using critical discourse and historical narrative analysis techniques. The finding of the study shows that in the five consecutive ‘Grand Failures’, an elite driven nation-building with incessant malign hegemonic aspiration of different kind, a chess game politics, nonentity of principle of compromise, a top-down democratization approach, and never-ending contradictory often conflictual ambition and spirit have ‘failed successfully’ to create a viable state, rather paradoxically has instigated a contested State: a State in the making. In these missed chances, the transitions have failed and paradoxically created new dictators who are more brutal and repressive than their predecessors. This is an element of continuity be it under ‘mandate of heaven’, ‘garrison socialism’ and ‘ethnic sanctity’ that constitute ‘a successful Grand Failure’, a failure without taking a lesson to transmogrify the prevailing ‘political malady’. The study, therefore, calls that unless we take into consideration the lessons of the lost opportunities of the twentieth century, the current golden opportunity hoped for consolidated democracy is likely to be the six democratic breakdowns and the reversion to authoritarianism. The study identifies that the following lesson must be taken into account: avoiding hegemonic leadership aspiration, politics of Dehumanization, unrestrained claim of competing elites, playing win-win politic instead of a chess game, principled politics, genuine willingness and commitment to compromise, prioritization of national interest and security that Ethnic interest, holding Nation-wide future vision instead of imprecise Ethnic vision. By taking these lessons, institutional and policy reform, brining national consensus towards a new social contract for New Ethiopia are an imperative and only path of survival. More importantly, since the transition so far is a peaceful and negotiated transition it must also take the path of cooperative transition through which democracy is most likely to flourish as the institutions adopted are more inclusive and therefore conducive to competition, a core tenet of representative government. Failing to do so would mean letting the hoped transition-for democratic consolidation and durable peace and development to die from the outset and thereby blessing of the reversion of authoritarianism.

Keywords: Democratic transition, democratic consolidation, Ethiopia