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Home>Interdisciplinary Global Development Centre>Research>Democratisation and Ethno-Federalism in Ethiopia

Primary Investigator: Dr Nicole Beardsworth, IGDC, University of York

Co-Investigator: Professor Assefa Fiseha, Centre for Federalism and Governance Studies, Addis Ababa University

Funder: Global Research Network on Parliaments and People (SOAS)

Ethiopia’s long-closed institutions are becoming more open. This change, driven by three years of youth-led popular protests, highlighted the inadequacy of Ethiopia’s ethno-federal institutions. Young people are an increasingly important political force in the country.

In light of these changes, this project puts youths and MPs in conversation about the efficacy of the country’s representative institutions, and how they might be reformed to become more inclusive and representative of young people’s concerns.

It will train young Ethiopian researchers to undertake an ethnographic video project to allow youths in two of the country’s regions (Amhara and Oromia) that were most affected by recent protests to express their views on: 1) their access to representative institutions and 2) the responsiveness of the state. These videos will then be used for advocacy purposes.

The project works with MPs at both state and federal levels to train them on learning from and working with youth groups, conducting parliamentary outreach, and the role of legislative bodies. This is particularly important in light of the Prime Minister’s recent comments with regards to the need to reform and reinvigorate the country’s ethno-federal political system.[1]

This project is novel for putting young people and parliamentarians in conversation with each other using participatory film-making and bringing them together to think about how best to reform the country’s institutions. It is important because it provides concrete tools to these stakeholders to tackle some of the most serious challenges that accompany the current process of democratization.

It adds to and builds upon existing literature on Ethiopia’s ethno-federal political system. It also makes a key contribution to broader theoretical literature on bottom-up pressures for change and youth participation in institutional reform and democratisation in developing countries. This project will provide the basis for a large-scale IGDC research project into citizen-state linkages in sub-Saharan Africa.


[1] Messay Kebede, ‘On Transitional Government and Ethnic Federalism’, Ethiopia Observer (blog), 3 August 2018, https://www.ethiopiaobserver.com/2018/08/03/on-transitional-government-and-ethnic-federalism/

Contact us

Interdisciplinary Global Development Centre
igdc@york.ac.uk
01904 321042
Department of Politics, University of York, Heslington, York, YO10 5DD, UK
@York_IGDC

Contact us

Interdisciplinary Global Development Centre
igdc@york.ac.uk
01904 321042
Department of Politics, University of York, Heslington, York, YO10 5DD, UK
@York_IGDC