Africa Ethiopia polls: Which parties to keep an eye on?

Ethiopia polls: Which parties to keep an eye on?

 

Supporters of the Ethiopian People's Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF) sit in stands under a portrait of Former Prime Minister Meles Zenawi, Addis Ababa.
Supporters of the Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF) sit in stands under a portrait of Former Prime Minister Meles Zenawi, Addis Ababa.

(AA) – Ethiopia will hold its 5th parliamentary and regional council elections on Sunday.

Some 58 political parties will contest 547 seats in parliament (the House of Peoples’ Representatives) as well as regional council seats.

About 112 regional council members will form the House of Federation, or the upper house of the Ethiopian parliament, after the elections.

Around 36.8 million people are eligible to vote in the elections at 545,000 polling stations across Ethiopia.

Anadolu Agency lists here some of the most important political parties contesting the elections:

  • EPRDF

The ruling Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front Party (EPRDF) won Ethiopia’s past four elections, including the highly contested 2005 elections after which it was forced to give up nearly 200 parliament seats for the opposition.

The party as well as other parties influenced by its policies recorded a landslide victory in the last elections in 2010.

EPRDF was a rebel group before it turned into a political party that formed the government in 1991.

As a rebel group, EPRDF fought against Ethiopia’s then military junta.

The party is actually an alliance of four political parties, namely Oromo People Democratic Organization; Amhara National Democratic Movement; the Southern Ethiopia People’s Democratic Front, and the Tigray People’s Liberation Front.

The party believes in what it calls “revolutionary democracy.” It propagates rule by a major political party, one that sets everything in motion and controls it.

EPRDF opposes liberal democracy and liberalism in general.

  • Semayawi

Semayawi or Blue Party was established in 2012. It operates throughout Ethiopia, believing in liberalism and nationalism.

Semayawi  managed to muster a large support base as well as substantial funds.

The party has allocated 42 million Ethiopia birr (roughly $2.5 million) for its election campaign, which is considered a huge amount of money for the electoral campaign of an opposition party in this country.

It said it collected this money from its members both inside and outside Ethiopia.

Semayawi is headed by Yilikal Getnet, a young engineer who lucidly opposed the policies of the ruling EPRDF party.

  • MEDREK

The Forum for Democratic Dialogue in Ethiopia (MEDREK) was founded in 2008 as an opposition coalition.

It contested the 2010 elections, but won only one seat in the House of Peoples’ Representatives.

It consists of four political parties, namely the United Ethiopian Democratic Forces; the Oromo Federalist Democratic Movement; the Somali Democratic Alliance Forces, and the Union of Tigrians for Democracy and Sovereignty.

  • EDP

The Ethiopian Democratic Party (EDP) is arguably the oldest opposition party operating in Ethiopia at present.

EDP was part of the United Ethiopian Democratic Forces coalition in the 2005 elections. The coalition won 52 out of the 527 seats of parliament.

In 2010, EDP could not win a single seat in the elections.

The party is strongly opposed to ethnic federalism and the division of Ethiopia on ethnic lines. It backs the restoration of traditional provinces within a federal structure.

It calls for the creation of an independent judicial system, respect for human rights and strengthening the rights of federal regions