Ethiopia: A Democratic Developmental State?

  • MA. Fesseha Mulu Gebremariam Department of Governance and Development Studies, College of Law and Governance, Jimma University, Ethiopia
  • MA. Abtewold Moges Bayu Department of Governance and Development Studies, College of Law and Governance, Jimma University, Ethiopia
Keywords: Democracy, Developmental state, Miraculous economic transformation, EPRDF, Neo-liberalism, Poverty.


The ruling Ethiopia People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF) in its notable second reform appraisal held in the aftermath of the 2005 national election concluded that the utmost priority of the government should be realizing fastest and sustainable economic growth that fairly benefits its citizens’ unless the very existence of the country wouldn’t be guaranteed. Given the history of poverty reduction in developing countries, particularly in Africa, EPRDF realized that it is unthinkable to eradicate poverty from Ethiopia adopting neo-liberalism. Above all, the miraculous economic transformation of the South East Asian countries like South Korea, Taiwan, Singapore and Hong Kong has proved that there is another way to development, not just neo-liberalism. Accordingly, EPRDF, after examining South Korea’s and Taiwan’s history of economic development in particular where both countries have had a large section of rural population unlike Hong Kong and Singapore where both are urban, found ‘developmental state’ relevant to Ethiopia. However, unlike these countries which were originally under non-democratic regimes where their leaders fear the rural peasant and external aggression from their communist rivals, EPRDF has had a great support of rural and urban population with no imminent foreign threat(s), and decided to execute the ideology rather under the umbrella of democracy. Therefore, employing secondary sources, this desk study aims to analyze whether Ethiopia is a ‘democratic developmental state?’ And, concludes that given the practices of the government vis-a-vis the principles of democracy and developmental state, Ethiopia couldn’t be taken as best model for democratic developmental state, rather emerging developmental state.


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