The year 2015 is very unlike the preceding four years in Ethiopia due to the fifth national and regional electoral session that is about to take place on the 24th of May 2015. While official campaigning by political parties is set to begin on the 14th of February, final results of the election are to be announced on June 22, 2015.
Since the downfall of the Derg regime, four general elections were held where the EPRDF has taken the lead at every session. However, out of the four electoral sessions held since 1995, the most famous one was the 2005 election due to the occurrences it had entailed.
The 2005 election was mainly characterized by the turn of many unexpected events including violent demonstrations led by opposition parties who claimed the leading party had rigged the election. At this particular election, the EPRDF had gotten 68 percent of the parliament seats while the rest were to be shared among the opposition parties. Some of the opposition parties’ reacted furiously calling violent demonstrations that gripped the nation for some weeks. The aggressive situation was put under control following imprisonment of some of the opposition parties’ leaders and peace was restored to the nation.
The 2005 election, due to the elevated attention it has gained, has eluded some to believe that it was the first democratic election since the downfall of the Derg, while in reality the country’s first acquaintance with electoral democracy goes back as far as to 1992. It was for the first time in June 1992 that elections were arranged to determine the composition of the local government. In addition, the 2005 election is also preceded by two national and regional elections held in 1995 and 2000 since the adoption of the FDRE Constitution in 1995. Those experiences were followed by the 2010 general election where the EPRDF has yet again taken the lead by obtaining 99.6 percent of the general vote.
The 2015 election is the first to be held under Prime Minster Hailemariam Desalegn, as the previous ones were all held under the late Prime Minister Meles Zenawi. According to the National Electoral Board 74 political parties are registered to participate in the election out of which twenty three are vying for national vote.
We have yet come again at the dawn of another election and how it is going to unfold is ultimately placed in our hands. Freedom of expression should be taken as an essential factor in this election to let the public have a comprehensive knowledge of the candidates, who will represent it. Candidatures and as well as their visions, policies and other essential matters should be freely and openly discussed. Free and constructive discussions and also live and interesting debates should be conducted in a way that let the public have comprehensive knowledge of what is at stake and what is not.
As has been witnessed on earlier electoral campaigns, competing parties are mainly focus on singling out the weak point of their competitors instead of clearly laying down makes them different and important if they were to take on governmental posts. This form of argument is neither productive nor is it constructive hence leaves the public in quandary and unable to realize why it should give its vote to those that are clearly failing to point out their visions and plans for the country. The campaigns and debates should be live and firm, and strictly to the point to let the public to vote with clear intentions.
It should be duly noted that where a certain party fails to get the vote of the public after getting its message across properly, the positive aspects of its vision, policies and ways of implementation can be picked up by the winning party to be used for the benefit of the public. The focus of this election should not only be on winning the majority parliament seats, but for the greater good and the common good of the country. Not acquiring enough votes to get parliament seats does not automatically relieve one of his/her citizen duties. The ones that effect positive change in a country are not only those in a parliament or on governmental posts, but also those that have strived to get their message across to the public and do their part to ensure the fairness and supremacy of electoral vote.
Media has an essential role everywhere in the globe. It shows the true color of those that hide behind false covers. For the media to discharge its vital role, it should provide free access to all and it should assist the smooth running of an election. The media should be used in every way possible to get the message across the public, and final decision should be left for the public to elect its representatives.
The public needs a comprehensive understanding of what a single voice can do in a constitutional governance system. Those of us who are second guessing political parties candidacy and restraining ourselves from giving our votes need to reconsider our stand on this decisive matter.
Voting does not necessarily mean giving the voice to the perfect candidate there ever existed. It means giving a voice to the best there is out of the whole competing bunch. It means choosing one that can listen and not the one that does things on its own accord. It means choosing one that can differentiate good from better and also the better from the best, and one that would not compromise the general need of the public no matter what.
Where one citizen gives out a vote for the one he/she believes in, it means that the vote is one that is to bring about change in the country. Since they are the basic foundation of a democratic country, elections would not cease to exist just because there are many voters that do not participate. Elections shall continue to be effective every time to let voters who are willing to participate in order to let their voice effect change. The decision of a voter whom to send to parliament affects the non-voter too. A non-voter would not gain more or suffer less than the voter, but won’t have a gloating line where it has gained or an exception line where it has suffered. A vote does make a difference if used wisely and those of us that are entitled to make a choice should always use it.