Volume 6 Issue 1 (2017)

Incorporating ‘‘Democratic Developmental State Ideology’’ into Ethiopia’s Ethnic Federalism – A Contradiction?

pp. 109-117  |  Published Online: May 2017  |  DOI: 10.22521/unibulletin.2017.61.9

Bizuayehu Daba, Fesseha Mulu


The ruling Ethiopia’s People Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF) has adopted a mix of two ideologies called “Democratic Developmental State” (democracy from the dominant west), and Developmental State Ideology (from the east), initially under the leadership of the late Prime Minister, Meles Zenawi. Thus, this desk research paper aims to analyze the adoption of developmental state ideology within the existing federal structure of the state, whether or not it is contradictory to the 1995 Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia Constitution, and assess its implication to the autonomy of regional states. Accordingly, the study concludes that the adoption of this ideology amounts to a change of constitution, and state structure from federal to unitary. The state governments would be under a visible shadow of the federal government where the states would serve merely as agents of the federal government, and their autonomy would be degraded significantly. 

Keywords: autonomy, democratic developmental state, federal structure, interfering, unitary


Asnake, K. (2011). Narratives of Developmentalism and Development in Ethiopia: Some preliminary explorations. Available on: http://www.nai.uu.se/ecas-4/panels/41-60/panel-57/AsnakeKefale-Full-paper.pdf . Accessed on 19/3/2017.

Bagchi, A. K. (2000). The Past and the Future of the Developmental State. Journal of World Systems Research, 5(2), 398-442.

Bekele, S., & Regassa, T. (2012). Democratization in a Developmental State: The Case of Ethiopia Issues, Challenges, and Prospects. UNDP Ethiopia No 1/2012. Governance and Human Rights Unit, UNDP Ethiopia.

Bonda, S. (2011). Impact of Ethnic Federalism in Building Developmental State of Ethiopia (Unpublished Master’s Thesis). International Institute of Social Studies (ISS), The Hague, The Netherlands.

Chandra, J. (2012). Theory of Fiscal Federalism: An Analysis. Rajasthan, Jaipur, India: Amity University.

Fiseha, A. (2007). Federalism and the Accommodation of Diversity in Ethiopia: A Comparative Study. Addis Ababa: Wolf Legal.

Fourie, E. (2011). Ethiopia and the Search for Alternative Exemplars of Development. Italy: University of Toronto.

Gebretensae, M. (2015). The Challenges and Prospects of Building a Developmental State in Africa: A Comparative Study of Botswana and Ethiopia (Unpublished Master’s Thesis). Addis Ababa University, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.

International Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance. (2015). Federalism. Strömsborg, Stockholm, Sweden.

Jebena, B. A. (2015). Ethnic Federalism and Democratic Developmental State in Ethiopia: Some Points of Contradiction. International Journal of Political Science and Development, 3(7), 291-300.

Johnson, C. (1982). MITI and the Japanese Miracle: the Growth of Industrial Policy. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press.

Law, J. (2013). How Can We Define Federalism? Perspectives on Federalism, 5(3), 88-117.

Leftwich, A. (2008). Developmental states, effective states and poverty reduction: The primacy of politics. United Nations Research Institute for Social Development (UNRISD) Project on Poverty Reduction and Policy Regimes. Geneva, Switzerland

Matfess, H. (2015). Rwanda and Ethiopia: Developmental Authoritarianism and the New Politics of African Strong Men. African Studies Review, 58(2), 181-204.

Montes, R., Jr. (2006). Understanding Federalism. In S. A. Ilago & R. Montes Jr. (Eds.), Federalism and Multiculturalism (pp. 159-176). Quezon City, Philippines: Centre for Local and Regional Governance.

Mulu, B. (2015). The move towards developmental state in FDRE: The role of Intergovernmental Relation (IGR) for its implementation preserving the Autonomy of regional states (Unpublished Master’s Thesis). Addis Ababa University, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.

Öniş, Z. (1991). The Logic of the Developmental State. Comparative Politics, 24(1), 109-126.

Routley, L. (2014). Developmental States in Africa? A Review of Ongoing Debates and Buzzwords. Development Policy Review, 32(2), 159-177.

United Nations Economic & Social Council (2013). The Developmental State: What options for Africa? Aide Memoire. Economic Commission for Africa Governance and Public Administration Division Third Meeting of the Committee on Governance and Popular Participation (CGPP-III). Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.

Yesigat, Z. (2016). Subnational Fiscal Autonomy in a Developmental State: The Case of Ethiopia. Beijing Law Review, 7(1), 42-50.



► New issue coming soon! (Volume 13 Issue 1, 2024)

Call for Papers

UNIBULLETIN is calling for submissions. Authors are invited to submit papers from the all fields of the Education (General) and Social Sciences (General) in the international context. All submissions should be presented only in English.