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Reforming the Ethiopian electoral system: looking for the best alternative

Gebremeskel Hailu Tesfay


Electoral systems are set of rules and procedures which determine how voters cast their votes and how the votes are converted into representative seats.1 Beyond this, each electoral system has its own impact on how the political system functions. From this perspective, the author has tested the discontents of the Ethiopian electoral system, the first-past-the-post (FPTP) taking the election data of 2005, 2010 and 2015. The research finding showed that the FPTP electoral system is ill devised to the Ethiopian current needs and realities.2 In view of such discontents, there should be a genuine concern of reforming the Ethiopian electoral system. The question remains, however, which electoral system best suits the Ethiopian situation from the bulk of alternatives? In choosing the best alternative electoral system, first, a list of criteria are set which sum up what we want to achieve and what we want to avoid or in a broader sense what we want our political system to look like. The possible alternative electoral systems are evaluated against the specific criteria designed. Finally, the evaluation revealed decisively that the mixed electoral system with compensatory seats which maintains the strong attributes of FPTP and PR electoral systems while avoiding at the same time their negative sides is found to be the best to the Ethiopian multicultural federation. This system which combines FPTP and PR systems would produce proportional results, encourage inter-party conciliation, reduce the number of ignored votes, enable geographic representation, ensure fair results for all political parties and the voters behind them, and above all creates cohesive government than the PR system would do alone.

Keywords: electoral system, the FPTP, the mixed electoral system, proportional electoral system, and Ethiopia

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print ISSN: 2304-8239