Irony prevails across political spectrums, wherein extreme viewpoints
fuel rivalry. As politics is a continuum, ideologies
often override conciliations. However, whenever it
overlooks reason, the irony results in confusion.
So confused is Ethiopian opposition politics that political parties
emerge, split, merge, and pass on almost daily. They
remain weak, saturating the political scene with
lopsided rhetoric, unchallenged policy measures, and
With the parties failing to forward alternative arguments on issues of
public interest ranging from the cost of living to
doing business and onto social security, they settle
for playing a blame game. Failing to articulate
their stands, they go to bed merely opposing and
Governing is an art that demands a series of compromises. Beyond
rhetorical statements, it requires character to
lead. As far as this character embodies the energy
and determination as well as ability to innovate and
govern, it would be reflected in each argument.
An aspiring opposition member should exhibit this characteristic, even
among her opposition. If he understands the
responsibility of governing, her arguments would be
substantiated with facts. His arguments would be
accurate, while she fuses responsibility with
The Ethiopian political scene has been challenged by character poverty
since opposition politics has became increasingly
specious, individualised, and uncoordinated. Divided
along sectarian lines, the parties serve special
interests. Haunted by animosity, their arguments are
They take opposing as a duty, not a vocation, leading them to settle
for unproven policy alternatives. Lacking the
ability to strike optimal balances amongst
alternative policies, they prefer to capitalise on
public resentment or historical loopholes. On
occasions of strong policy debate, they opt for
archaic issues and even when they get it right, they
They claim to be liberal while supporting subsidies. They claim to be
social democrats while they favour tax relief for
the rich. In most cases, they lack a clear
philosophical drive in their arguments.
Still consisting of the Old Garde, they leave no space for the youth.\
Capitalising on their weaknesses, the EPRDF remains the only functional
party on the political scene. Snatching agendas such
as national unity, Abyssinian patriotism, and Nile
hegemony, once opposition strongholds, from the
opposition, the ruling party has successfully
transcended conventional ideological barriers.
As it expands its political base, it has crowded them out of their
comfort zone. They apparently enjoy the art of
opposing more than the prospect of possibly
On the inflationary economic situation, the opposition bluntly opposed
undertakings such as the credit cap. Some even
advocated for a wage increment, knowing that it
could fuel inflation.
Under the litmus test of fiscal policy, they shockingly failed to
identify a possible source of the money to pay for
it. So incomplete have their proposals been, they
forfeit on both political and technical fronts.
Coordination remained their nightmare, though they sometimes enact the
drama of forming coalitions. Lacking strategic
vision, coalitions often fracture.
At the heart of it lies the deeply entrenched poverty of character.
Signified by a concerted vision to govern, the
temperament to lead is an essential quality for an
aspiring chief. Not only do Ethiopian opposition
parties lack such a vision but their leaders are
The prevailing socio-cultural conditions are unfavourable for
democracy. Compounded by this narrow political
space, the opposing side has become so comfortable
that they find themselves in the quagmire of facing
To the dismay of ordinary Ethiopians, listening to reasoned debate
remains a luxury in this global era of innovation,
technology, and ideas. The marketplace of ideas is
crowded with Revolutionary Democracy and its
Crying fool of public disappointments has rather became the model of
doing business of opposition politics in the
country, as it aggrandises its every little
Although ideas are the lifeblood of partisan politics, less is said
about more in Ethiopian opposition politics. This
poverty of ideas accompanies the poverty of
character. Even in opportune times such as election
campaigns, opposition parties focus less on
innovative solutions than historical events. They
campaign with indolence, indicating that they might
govern with passivity.
Unable to rise above their conventional barriers, the representation of
opposition parties in the legislature went down to
one in 2010.
Meanwhile, global politics has changed significantly, with the ruling
party going far to adopt new policies and strategies
aside from building its human capital. Exposed to
the changing world order, from financial crisis to
climate negotiations, it has amassed considerable
political experience, which would help it capitalise
on its competitive advantage.
By contrast, Ethiopian opposition parties failed to partake in the
discourse about global issues. So long as they turn
a deaf ear to undertakings such as accession to the
World Trade Organisation (WTO), carbon trading, and
transnational resource development they would remain
on the defensive and diminishingly so.
Noting the huge discrepancy in the demand and supply of political
alternatives, establishing vibrant opposition
politics is essential. This could only materialise
if a culture of logical discourse prevailed.
Certainly, this would require more than merging and
What it takes to oppose is similar to what it takes to govern; opposing
with clarity to govern by consensus is the