DTA

Digital Theses Archive

 

Tesi etd-11182020-085447

Type of thesis
Dottorato
Author
MANE, FREW YIRGALEM
URN
etd-11182020-085447
Title
The Enigma of the Great-Run: Development, Violence and the Challenges of Democratizing Ethiopia
Scientific disciplinary sector
SECS-P/02
Course
Istituto di Diritto, Politica e Sviluppo - PHD IN HUMAN RIGHTS AND GLOBAL POLITICS: LEGAL, PHILOSOPHICAL, AND ECONOMIC CHALLENGES
Committee
relatore Prof. COLLIGNON, STEFAN
Membro Prof. TORNIMBENI, CORRADO
Membro Prof. FISCHER, ANDREW
Membro Prof. STRAZZARI, FRANCESCO
Membro Dott.ssa GIUSTI, SERENA
Keywords
  • Democracy
  • Development
  • Ethiopia
  • Institutions
  • Violence
Exam session start date
10/02/2021;
Availability
parziale
Abstract
From a &#39;war economy&#39; in the 1980s, Ethiopia became one of the fastest-growing nations globally, even leapfrogging China between 2004 and 2018. The achievement that the World Bank lauded as &#39;Ethiopia&#39;s Great-Run&#39; has subsequently shaped the academic and policy discourses about the country. However, despite the great-run political crisis engulfed Ethiopia since the outbreak of the Oromo protest in 2014. The crisis eventually compelled the ruling Ethiopian Peoples&#39; Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF) to change leadership and initiate wide-ranging political and economic reforms to the extent that accolade Abiy Ahmed, the country&#39;s new Prime Minister, the Noble Peace Prize Award.<br><br>Nevertheless, loosening decades of EPRDF&#39;s authoritarian structure has simultaneously contributed to a surge in political violence. The thesis aims to make sense of what has been happening in Ethiopia by asking: why Ethiopia&#39;s rapid economic development has simultaneously generated ethnic protests that fed into political crisis; and how the liberal reform initiatives of the new administration have failed to arrest the crisis? The thesis argues that Ethiopia&#39;s political crisis is not an exogenous phenomenon but an aspect of the crisis of the ruling EPRDF and the institutional mechanisms that contributed to rapid socio-economic development in the country.<br> <br>The argument can be explained further as follow. First, the thesis engages in mapping the link between institutions and economic development in modern Ethiopia. It relates this to the twin-mechanisms of institutionalizing ethnic politics and state-centred development that EPRDF adopted following its seizure of state power in 1991. Although the constellation between ethnic politics and state-centred development appeared Ethiopia&#39;s unique mechanism to address its challenges, the thesis shows that this was not, however, without some structural tension. Nevertheless, EPRDF pursued an authoritarian strategy- both within the party and broader political system- to keep the tension in check, often justifying this in terms of the country&#39;s rapid economic development. Secondly, the thesis shows that the improvement in the economy and especially with the mega plan to give this a big-push forward, however, disturbed the authoritarian balance. It created a conflict of interests and became a source of competing administrative-nationalisms as demonstrated by the infighting among members of the ethnically-structured ruling coalition. Fissure within the ruling coalition accounted for the eventual breakdown of its internal authoritarian structure and party cohesion.<br><br>Meanwhile, anti-regime protests broke out in Oromia and Amhara regions, overlapping ethnic and class agenda. The combination of elite infighting and popular protest eventually forced the ruling party to undergo leadership transition. When authoritarian regimes encounter a change of leadership, this often provides an opportunity to reconfigure the politico-economic rules of the game. Third, the leadership transition in Ethiopia promised such reconfiguration, which could have served as an entry-point to spearhead broader reforms in the direction of inclusive governance. Nevertheless, with formally fixed ethnic divides, the rising tides of ethno-regional polarization and political violence, Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed&#39;s administration drive to transform Ethiopia towards a democratic order appears a problematic endeavour.<br><br>The thesis is based on empirical data collected from primary and secondary sources. The primary sources include purposively selected interviewees consisting of party and government officials, opposition politicians, experts, activists, investors and residents in selected sites in Addis Ababa, Oromia, SNNP and Amhara regions. Besides, the thesis has drawn data from party documents, autobiographies of party officials, reports, training manuals, local and international media channels, research papers and dataset from ACLED, the World Bank and others.
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