Ethiopia’s democratic predicaments: state–society dynamics and the balance of power

This monograph outlines the foundational historical, political and security contexts that make autocracy resilient in Ethiopia.

Despite differences in the nature and programmes of successive regimes, Ethiopia has remained authoritarian throughout its modern history. This monograph explains this persistence through the lens of state–society dialectics and power asymmetry. It traces the origins of this form of rule to the era of state expansion. Since then, authoritarianism has been buttressed by the post-imperial regime capture of citizens, usually accompanied by political stability. Resistance to the state has not helped in consolidating democracy. While peaceful mobilisation may help change regimes and sustain political liberalisation, armed confrontation usually further entrenches autocracy.

About the author

Semir Yusuf has a PhD from the University of Toronto and is a Senior Researcher at the Institute for Security Studies in Addis Ababa where he heads the Ethiopia Project. He has published widely on conflict and peace, transition politics, authoritarian politics and Ethiopian studies.

Development partners
This monograph is funded by the Government of The Netherlands. The ISS is also grateful for support from the members of the ISS Partnership Forum: the Hanns Seidel Foundation, the European Union, the Open Society Foundations and the governments of Denmark, Ireland, the Netherlands, Norway and Sweden.
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