The Challenges of Multiparty Democracy in Ethiopia with Particular Emphasis on Electoral Administration

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Addis Ababa University


In democratic systems people participate in decision making directly by themselves or through their elected representatives. When they participate through their elected representatives, the way they elect their representatives matter. Representatives should be elected freely and fairly. In this regard the electoral administration plays a pivotal role in ensuring electoral integrity. The electoral administration is primarily guided by the constitutional and legal framework and the institutional arrangements of electoral management bodies. In Ethiopia the practice of democracy and multiparty elections is a recent experience. It has been started in 1991. Since then four general elections have been carried out in 1995, 2000, 2005, and 2010. The results of these general elections indicate that the ruling party has dominated overwhelming majority in both federal and regional parliaments. The elections have been usually tied with accusations and controversies, and sometimes to conflicts (as in the 2005 general election). The opposition political parties and some civil societies raise questions on the independence of the National Electoral Board of Ethiopia (NEBE) and its administration of elections. Therefore, this research study analyzes the challenges of multiparty democracy in Ethiopia with special emphasis on the electoral administration. It assesses the legal and institutional framework of the Ethiopian electoral system and how the NEBE managed previous elections. In general the research study has concluded that there are some loopholes in the legal framework that should be addressed with some changes in the constitutional and legal provisions. In electoral administration the NEBE had some drawbacks in managing some activities of the electoral process especially in post electoral activities. With this regard the Board has to improve its administration and maintain its independence. Key words: Multiparty democracy, electoral administration, electoral management bodies



Multiparty democracy, electoral administration, electoral management bodies