“Is the Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front Rule Sustainable in Ethiopia?” A Critical Reflection

Seife Hailu


In this paper, the author attempts to answer the question: ‘Is the Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front Rule Sustainable in Ethiopia?’ It is widely believed that the rise of Ethiopia has presented one of the most important challenges facing all major powers in the African continent and elsewhere this century. As the only ruling party, the sustainability of the Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front Party (EPRDF) can thus be legitimately questioned. Among many uncertainties about Ethiopia, the key is undoubtedly the EPRDF. Once deemed the vanguard of the Ethiopian state, the EPRDF’s failing ideological appeal, its equally unattractive and clumsy structure, and its disillusioned party cadres are now increasingly making the Party’s sustainability problematic. Moreover, the rapid globalization process has been and is generating an increasingly high pressure for the EPRDF leadership. So, therefore, to sustain its rule, the EPRDF now needs to review its continued relevance to the fast changing economic, social and political climate in Ethiopia and outside. Party reform appears to be the most logical and urgent choice, yet, there seems to be no clear direction given for the party’s structural transformation at the moment. Although there is a fast growing body of literature on Ethiopia’s development and its future, the issue of the EPRDF has been marginalized in the scholarly community. More often than not, when scholars attempt to examine the development and future of Ethiopia, they tend to focus on factors other than the EPRDF itself, even though they realize its importance. Most arguments have centered on Ethiopia’s economic development and the impact of that on other aspects of development, including the EPRDF. In recent years, though, there have been some efforts to bring the EPRDF back into the analysis. Nevertheless, it still remains understudied. In an attempt to answer the question of whether the EPRDF rule is sustainable, this paper then focuses on the party itself. It first discusses the nature of the EPRDF, and then examines how the EPRDF has transformed itself. It also places the EPRDF in the context of global capitalism. Finally, the paper assesses the sustainability of the EPRDF from all of these perspectives.

Keywords: EPRDF, sustainable rule, personalization, democratic centralism, institutionalization, economism, professionalism, globalization.

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ISSN (Paper)2224-5731 ISSN (Online)2225-0972

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