What defines the ruling coalition, the EPRDF, is ...

Jul 6 , 2019

What defines the ruling coalition, the EPRDF, is its political culture more so than its ideological literature, gossip observed. It may have the Leninist worldview of revolutionary democracy as its guiding ideological underpinning. But it is the Maoist discipline of democratic centralism that holds its members as well as their respective leadership and the rank and file, claims gossip.

The EPRDF has a tradition of secrecy while deliberating on policies and issues; but once decisions are made at the level of its executive committee, its army of cadres are deployed in shoving their party’s policies down the public’s throat, regardless of what members of the public may feel. It may be taken partly as an act of political courage, and in some ways this exposes its authoritarian heritage.

Recent episodes reveal that the ruling coalition has either abandoned these traits or the Front is changing its DNA, says gossip. Just look at the different and often conflicting narratives emerging from the leaders of each party in the coalition. The ambiguity - followed instead by design - is apparent on what growth model the EPRDF would want to follow.

Leaders of the TPLF are adamant in sticking to the developmental state model, a view not enthusiastically embraced by either leaders of ADP or ODP. Leaders of SEPDM remain quiet, perhaps finding themselves preoccupied with their internal dynamics of several zones calling for a referendum to attain regional status. The coalition’s leaders are worried this may lead to the melting down of the SEPDM should one or more of the zones become a regional state of their own.

Concerning referendums or national undertakings such as censuses and elections, the country appears to be in a delicate time to hold them without vertical and horizontal conflicts between the state and pressure groups and among the latter, claims gossip. Both the public and various leaders of the political establishment have made pronouncements about whether it is wise to hold the next national elections on schedule.

All the sides appear to have a plausible rationale in support of their respective views. Several have anxiety fearing that the electoral contests may lead to the further polarisation of voters that could provoke inter-communal conflicts, claims gossip. Their fears are justified by extensive academic studies that show that a society divided along identity-based mobilisations could descend into chaos and political violence. Others urge that it is upon the state and those entrusted with it to ensure that its constitutional obligations are met despite alarming development on the law and order fronts.

It may not be surprising to see the political opposition divided on the issue of the timeline for the upcoming elections. Leaders of those recently returned to the legal political space may have every incentive to see the elections postponed. They feel they have little chance to gain ground among voters, as opposed to their contenders who have stayed in the country, gossip claims. The parties that put pressure on the state to hold the elections on time believe they are bound to get landslide victories among voters where they think they have a stronghold.

Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed (PhD), also chairman of the ruling coalition, remained ambitious up until recently, sending mixed signals both in his public address and private communications, claims gossip. It may have been deliberate, but the downside of such ambiguity also divided leaders of the coalition parties, whose comfort in winning elections varies accordingly, says gossip.

The one party which appears secure in a sweeping electoral win is the TPLF, claims gossip. Not surprisingly, its leaders have pushed the agenda for electoral schedule during the last Executive Committee meeting EPRDF held a couple of weeks ago, gossip disclosed. They have indeed managed to persuade the leadership to cement its commitment for the upcoming national elections, reveals gossip. Indeed, the highest decision-making body of the EPRDF has decided to hold the next national polls according to schedule, disclosed gossip.

Why the leadership is reluctant to communicate such a crucial decision to voters and contending parties reveals how much the political culture of the EPRDF has changed, claims gossip.

PUBLISHED ON Jul 06,2019 [ VOL 20 , NO 1001]

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