Edited by David Turton
“Three primary assumptions guided the contributors. First, given its multi-ethnic character, there was agreement that there is no alternative to some form of federal system for Ethiopia. Second, given the relative lack of internal, ethnically based violence since the introduction of the federal system, it was generally agreed by the authors that the experiment until now has been largely successful in ameliorating ethnic tensions. Finally, the contributors agreed that when measured against the requirements of federalism in practice as opposed to federalism in theory, Ethiopia still has a long way to go.”
International Journal of African Historical Studies
Since 1991, Ethiopia has gone further than any other country in using ethnicity as the fundamental organizing principle of a federal system of government. And yet this pioneering experiment in “ethnic federalism” has been largely ignored in the growing literature on democratization and ethnicity in Africa and on the accommodation of ethnic diversity in democratic states. Ethnic Federalism brings a much-needed comparative dimension to the discussion of this experiment in Ethiopia.
Ethnic Federalism closely examines aspects of the Ethiopean case and asks why the use ofterritorial decentralism to accommodate ethnic differences has been generally unpopular in Africa, while it is growing in popularity in the West.
The book includes case studies of Nigerian and Indian federalism and suggests how Ethiopia might learn from both the failures and successes of these older federations. In the light of these broader issues and cases, it identifies the main challenges facing Ethiopia in the next few years, as it struggles to bring political practice into line with constitutional theory and thereby achieve a genuinely federal division of powers.
David Turton is a senior associate of Queen Elizabeth House, University of Oxford, where he was formerly Reader in Forced Migration and Director of the Refugees Studies Centre.
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