Reconfiguring Ethiopia: The Politics of Authoritarian Reform

Tobias Hagmann (Editor), Jon Abbink (Editor)

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    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.
    Original languageEnglish
    Number of pages232
    ISBN (Print)978-0-415-81387-7
    Publication statusPublished - 2013

    Bibliographical note

    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).

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