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2015 - Elections

On May 24, the country held national elections for the House of People’s Representatives, the country’s parliamentary body. On October 5, parliament re-elected Hailemariam Desalegn prime minister.

In the May national parliamentary elections, the EPRDF and affiliated parties won all 547 seats, giving the party a fifth consecutive five-year term. Government restrictions severely limited independent observation of the vote. The African Union was the sole international organization permitted to observe the elections. Opposition party observers accused local police of interference, harassment, and extrajudicial detention. Independent journalists reported little trouble covering the election, including reports from polling stations. Some independent journalists reported receiving their observation credentials the day before the election, after having submitted proper and timely applications.

Six rounds of broadcast debates preceded the elections, and for the most part, they were broadcast in full and only slightly edited. The debates included all major political parties. Several laws, regulations, and procedures implemented since the 2005 national elections created a clear advantage for the EPRDF throughout the electoral process. The “first past the post” provision, or 50 percent plus one vote required to win a seat in parliament, as stipulated in the constitution, contributed to EPRDF’s advantage in the electoral process. There were reports of unfair government tactics, including intimidation of opposition candidates and supporters. Various reports confirmed at least six election-related deaths during the period before and immediately following the elections. There were reports questioning the National Electoral Board of Ethiopia’s (NEBE)’s political independence, particularly its decisions concerning party registration and candidate qualification. The NEBE has sole responsibility for voter education and broadcast radio segments and distributed manuals on the topic in many local languages.

In a pre-election assessment, the African Union called the elections “calm, peaceful and credible” and applauded the government for its registration efforts. It raised concerns, however, about the legal framework underpinning the election. The NEBE registered more than 35 million voters, and did not report any incidents of unfair voter registration practices.

Opposition party members were subject to violence and harassment during the period preceding and following the May national elections. The government, controlled by the ruling EPRDF, restricted media freedom and arrested opposition members. Constituent parties of the EPRDF conferred advantages upon their members; the parties directly owned many businesses and were broadly perceived to award jobs and business contracts to loyal supporters. Several opposition political parties reported difficulty in renting homes or buildings in which to open offices, citing visits by EPRDF members to the property owners to persuade or threaten them not to rent property to these parties.

There were reports authorities terminated the employment of teachers and other government workers if they belonged to opposition political parties. According to Oromo opposition groups, the Oromia regional government continued to threaten to dismiss opposition party members, particularly teachers, from their jobs. Government officials alleged many members of legitimate Oromo opposition parties were secretly OLF members, and more broadly, that members of many opposition parties had ties to Ginbot 7. At the university level, members of Medrek and its constituent parties were able to teach. There were reports unemployed youths not affiliated with the ruling coalition sometimes had trouble receiving the “support letters” from their kebeles (neighborhoods or wards) necessary to get jobs.

Registered political parties must receive permission from regional governments to open and occupy local offices. Opposition parties reported difficulty acquiring the required permissions for regional offices, adversely affecting their ability to organize and campaign. Laws requiring parties to report “public meetings” and obtain permission for public rallies were also used to inhibit opposition activities.

The only international observers during Ethiopia’s elections 25 May 2015 were from the African Union, with opposition parties already feeling the AU observers are not demanding enough in their criticism of Ethiopia's election process, which is dominated by the ruling party. The European Union decided to sit out this year's elections because its previous recommendations to Ethiopia were not accepted.

Nearly 37 million Ethiopians were registered for the elections. More than 5,800 candidates from 58 political parties are running for parliament and regional offices. Ethiopians voted in elections that were expected to give the ruling EPRDF party another five-year hold on power.

There were no reports of election-related violence and African Union observers said the voting was "orderly." The African Union was the sole international organization permitted to observe the elections. Opposition party observers accused local police of interference, harassment, and extrajudicial detention. Independent journalists reported little trouble covering the election, including reports from polling stations. Some independent journalists reported receiving their observation credentials the day before the election, after having submitted proper and timely applications. Six rounds of broadcast debates preceded the elections, and for the most part they were broadcast in full and only slightly edited. The debates included all major political parties.

Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn’s party voted to observe two term limits for prime minister, meaning that if as expected he won, this would be his final term. Ethiopia’s ruling party won the election with an overwhelming majority. The electoral board said May 27, 2015 the ruling EPRDF party and its allies won all the parliamentary seats- 547. The Ethiopian Political Revolutionary Democratic Front won all of the seats in the capital city, Addis Ababa.

Final results were announced on June 22. Ethiopia’s ruling party said it had overwhelmingly won the 2015 parliamentary elections, claiming 546 out of 547 seats in legislative body for a five year term. For the past five years, the Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF) and their affiliated parties has faced only one opposition member in parliament, and one independent member often voted with the ruling party.




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