Democratization in a Developmental State: The Case of Ethiopia Issues, Challenges, and Prospects

16 Apr 2012

Report Summary

According to Government reports, Ethiopia has achieved encouraging development results, maintaining an economic growth rate of 11 % for the last five years. It has also been reported that the country has come to enjoy the fastest improvement in the Human Development Index (HDI) among Least Developed Countries (LDCs).

Moreover, it is determined to accelerate and maintain this development result while strengthening its democratic agenda. It has set for itself a challenging goal of becoming a Democratic Developmental state seeking to create a middle income society and a green economy by 2025. This piece tries to explore the question of what it takes to advance the frontiers of democracy in a developmental state, and what UNDP can do to contribute to the process of deepening democracy in a developmental state.

The theme of this paper revolves around the issues, challenges, and prospects of democratization in a developmental state by taking the Ethiopian case as an example. Ethiopia has declared itself to be pursuing the path of a developmental state. It seeks to construct a developmentalist state while also deepening its democracy2. The latter is particularly made clear in the Growth and Transformation Plan (GTP) it has adopted for itself to transform the economic and political terrain of the country3. The interest in constructing a developmental state while also deepening democracy, as stimulating as
it is to those who value a democratic developmental state, is not without its challenges.

Indeed, it poses a set of challenges. It also resuscitates the relatively old question as to whether the two goals of achieving development and enhancing democracy can be attained at one and the same time. It evokes the question as to whether pressing the democratic agenda impedes or facilitates development. The issues of whether there is a relationship of priority, or primacy, between development and democracy are raised.
These issues raise difficult (perhaps intractable) questions deservedly long debate among development scholars. These same questions are raised in different forms in different contexts and they lead to smaller, local, and context-specific issues that need to be raised and discussed.

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