The first election 2010 poll—EPRDF loses debate series – Eskinder Nega (Addis Ababa)

May 14th, 2010 Print Print Email Email

No poll has been conducted on election 2010 to date, not even by the little read English weeklies, which have broader leeway than the closely monitored(by the state) Amharic newspapers. (more…)

No poll has been conducted on election 2010 to date, not even by the little read English weeklies, which have broader leeway than the closely monitored(by the state) Amharic newspapers. But whether sanctioned or prohibited, this would have been inconceivable if pre-2005 newspapers were around. Defying the EPRDF(and paying the price), so passé for existing newspapers(who have been massively rejected by the public, as their circulation numbers sadly show. But I read them.), was in fact the raison d’être of existence for pre-2005 newspapers. Needless to say, this election would have been much more engaging had they not been illicitly banned. (Hopefully, their absence will in the future be partially redressed by Ethiopian radios and TVs on ArabSat.)

With these nostalgic thoughts in mind, a group of journalists teamed up to do what would be the first poll of this election season. Be warned, however, this is by no means a scientific poll; our limitations are obvious. But we are confident that some semblance of truth could be revealed, if only by way of a larger margin of error than is usual for scientific polls.

The first hurdle we had to cross was picking sample respondents on the basis of specific statistical criteria. Alas, it was a trial test we failed before the go. Ethiopia is a relatively large and diverse country, a nationwide reach requires an extensive network(because phone interviews are impractical). So the imperative was to scale down to Addis; which was logistically and economically feasible. Respondents were then selected on the basis of ethnicity, region and class. Unfortunately, through no fault of ours, we were unable to enlist as many Muslims and females as we had wanted to.

The second task was to frame the questions. We were adamant that they should be fair, unbiased and offer a balanced set of choices. That needed a series of meetings and hours of debate, but we finally did agree on a set of questions; which were reviewed and endorsed by several notable public figures. The questionnaires were then finally distributed to respondents, who were instructed to fill them out immediately after each airing of the debates between political parties on state media. But by then two debates had already taken place, and so only seven of the nine debates were to be gauged.

But first, we inquired which issues matter most to our subjects, and the results were surprising and familiar at the same time. We asked our respondents to list the top five issues that matter most to them. Leading the field by far is inflation, with a whopping 77 % listing it as their top concern. Then came jobs scarcity, 65%. Democracy stood at third place with 62%. The issue of Ethiopia’s outlet to the sea still figures prominently at fourth place, almost two decades after the secession of Eritrea, with 57%.( Most participants were between the ages of 30 to 40.) Ethnic division, for which the EPRDF is mostly blamed, came at fifth place with 53%.

The questionnaire asked the respondents to rate the parties on a scale of 1 to 10(1 being total failure, ten being excellent; except for negativity where the reverse holds) for:

1. knowledge and experience of issue

2. composure and discipline of debaters

3. honesty and sincerity

4. negativity

5. oratory

There was room for remarks next to each rating space, and many of them wrote their impressions.

There were a total of nine debates until May 14, a week before the elections. The topics were: democracy and pluralism; federalism and decentralization; education; health; good governance; human rights and rule of law; agriculture and land ownership; foreign policy; urban development and industry; and infrastructure.

On Education,the EPRDF( which was represented by two people, including the Education Minister, Demeke Mekonen) scored an average of 5 for knowledge, composure, honesty and oratory of its debaters. But it scored a high 8 on negativity, which is bad.( The lower the score for negativity the better.) It’s overall performance was just below the mean. Medrek(which was represented by a veteran of the Education Ministry, Asrat Tase) too scored an average of 5 for knowledge, but was rated at an average of 6 in othrer areas. In the crucial negativity index( most respondents strongly disapproved of excessive disagreeability and hostility) it stood at an impressive low of 3; enabling it to pull ahead of the EPRDF in this debate. But on the bottom of each questionnaire is a question that reads, “How do you rate this debate?”, and gives three alternatives: exciting, average, dull. 52% of the respondents marked dull, 21 % average and only 17 % exciting.

(For lack of space I will be detailing only the results of Medrek and EPRDF—the two largest political organizations competing in this election. The full survey will be published as part of a book on the election at some point in the future.)

On health, the result of the EPRDF is quite mixed. It was represented by the Minister of Health, Dr Tewodros Adhanom. Perhaps on account of the articulate delivery by the Minister, the EPRDF scored above average on knowledge and experience, an average of 7. Redwan Hussien, EPRDF’s star of this election season, earned good marks for his oratory. But he also devastated his party by his visible negativity—which earned the EPRDF a whooping average of 9. In other areas, they garnered an average of 6. In contrast, the calm bearing of Professor Beyene, who represented Medrek, was given high marks, an average of 7, in all spheres( the quality of health care, which was stressed by Beyene, resonated with many respondents); save that of oratory, for which the Professor earned only 5. This was a battle that the EPRDF could have won ( by way of its avalanche of statistics and reasonable record) if only it was capable of showing a little bit of humility. It lost because of the way it delivered its message (who likes a bully?) rather than on substance.

On good governance and human rights, Medrek fielded Gebru Asrat, whose oratory had completely escaped him on that day. This was duly noted by the respondents, who gave him only an average 3 for oratory and composure. But that was compensated by high points for honesty and knowledge,an average of 7, and significantly for negativity, an average of only 2 ; the lowest in this poll. The EPRDF, on the other hand, was perceptibly belligerent, yet again represented by the fiery Redwan Hussien, who characteristically earned high marks for his oratory; but an embarrassingly low one for honesty, an average of 2. (Not surprising, considering the issue.) EPRDF’s lingering high rating for negativity, another average of 9, was inevitable; this being the one issue where it was clearly on the defensive. This was one debate the EPRDF should have lost heavily, but it was to escape relatively unscathed by the opposition. Lidetu Ayalew, who represented his party, EPD, also earned high marks for his oratory and composure, but he did more damage to the opposition than the EPRDF, according to several comments by the respondents. The debate was marked as exciting by 24%, average by 33% and dull by 43%.

On Foreign Relation, in which Medrek was represented by Seye Abraha, Medrek scored its highest points. In knowledge, composure, honesty and oratory it averaged an impressive 8; and on negativity a low of 3. The EPRDF by contrast, chiefly represented by Arkebe Ekubay, whose expertise on foreign relation is at best murky, clearly lost by registering an average of 3 for knowledge, composure, and honesty. Thanks to Redwan, it scored an average of 8 for negativity; but also a respectable 7 for oratory. The EPRDF lost heavily to Mederk in this debate, a fact that is acknowledged by its members and sympathizers. 41% marked the debate as exciting, it was average for 38% and dull for 21%; the lowest in this survey. The debates on land ownership, urban development and infrastructure were areas in which Medrek was also rated higher than the EPRDF, its negativity and shrill denunciations of the opposition losing it the favor of many respondents.But the significant result of those surveys were the percentage that rated them as dull: 54% for urban development,56% for land ownership, and 44% for infrastructure. No debate was marked as exciting by a majority. “Many people I know did not watch the debates,” wrote one respondent.” The EPRDF may have stolen the thunder from the debates by overruling live transmission, but it has also become a towering symbol of its bullying tactics, inviting a backlash from voters. It will remain to be seen next week if voters will punish it for its impertinence, and if their votes will be counted fairly.

But, please, don’t hold your breath in the meantime.


Medrek denied rally permit

The bid to repeat the massive turnout by the public in support of the opposition in 2005 on the last day of the campaign season by Medrek was stuck down by the Addis Ababa administration, which is led by Corporal Kuma Demeksa, by refusing to issue a permit for a mass rally at Meskel Square for the coming Sunday. “ It would have been a turning point for this election,” said a member of pundit. Medrek has now applied for permit to hold a rally inside Addis Ababa’s stadium, which has a maximum capacity of 30, 000. A decision is pending as this article is being finalized. Other parties have booked a final series of public meetings in halls around the city.

  1. aha!
    | #1

    There is no such concept/policy as federalism vs decentralization as pobably between ethnic fedreralism vs state fedreralism, when one talks of unity, territorial integrity, sovereignity of Ethiopia and Ethiopians. There is such thing as democracy as a coice but freedom and perhaps democracy/democratic rights as choice for criteria. There is no such a thing as a choice between TPLF/eprdf and Medrek, of the would be Tigrai-Harena/fdd/efdr/efdur, which is a scramble for power between ex-TPLFites escorted by other loyalist oppostion parties and UDJP wearing two hats one for national agenda and another for ethnic agenda. Where the questionaire addressing those parties that stand in stark contrast to TPLF/eprdf on the major goals for national agenda and specfic topics as infrastructure, the economy and agriculture and land ownership. What has negativity has to do with presenting the facts about talking TPLF’s failure as opposed to TPLF’s deamining of the opposition and mislabeling KAEUP for what it is not, despite the code of of Conduct Agreement. Does Medrek even qualify to be in the debate with the framwork for the debate time allocation, and public attendance and day of broadcasting were not properly set, let alone not signed on to the agreement and to be presented to the Diaspora as the only contender in the 2010 election, and basing the questionaire on the first two debates. What is going on with the Major Diaspora Media of highjacking the peacful struggle of the silent majority of Ethiopians by the mirror image of TPLF/eprdf regime. There is nothing but rivalery between these two parties over the same ethinc agenda: the of respecting ethnic boundrries, ethnic federalism, rather than state federalism with various demogrphies, ethnic and/or secessionist rights, does not amount amount to the cry of individuals for freedom of all sorts both economic and political. This questionaire assumes as if the election is going on in some democratic country, where the parties are in the same page with respect to the national agenda.

  2. aha!
    | #2

    Corrigendum: Second sentence should read “there is no such thing as a choce….

  3. aha!
    | #3

    There in such thing as democracy as a choice, but freedom…..

  4. aha!
    | #4

    There is no such thing as democracy as a choice, but freedom …

  5. koster
    | #5

    I doubt that MEDREK is the choice of the Ethiopians, it could be the choice of the WEST. Although AEUP and its leadership (engineer Hailu) are hated by Eskinder and the WEST, it is a party not to be ignored and a choice of many Ethiopians.

  6. atuba dolla
    | #6

    You,Zinawi,you can not sell Ethiopia,our homeland;therefore,knowning that you are in Ethiopia,honor the people and our motherland.

    Gentle readers,now,what advantage do we drrive for our country from hearing a man says that Ethiopia does not need its deserved port?

    Zinawi all the years he did nothing but devicing for the distruction of Ethiopia either covertly or indirectly;the funding and support came from the enemies who hated the existence of our homeland.

    Facts and reality on the ground speak for themselves;right.That is what I am talking about.The election will not be fair and free.

    One of the reasons MEDREK enjoys success is that it connects voters with the public,it shows consitent persistence;in other words,democrat candidates who represent Ethiopians give due thought and consideration to enable Ethiopia retain its Asab port because it has been the teritorial integrity of the country.Ethiopians,do you like Zinawi? Do you trust Zinawi? Do you think Zinawi can lead Ethiopians?

    Ethiopians,take a serious look at Zinawi;do you trust Zinawi with your homeland? No you don’t.This is what I am talking about; in 2005,voters crushed Zinawians and the system they built to suppress and oppress Ehtiopians to a complete defeat.The enemy will be defeated.Voters will not fail Ethiopia.

    This is the third time that Zinawi faces Ethiopians.Yes,at the first enocunter,he launched war against Ethiopia and committed genocide;wicked crime.Second encounter,in 2005;Ethiopians won.Now, on the 3rd encounter,
    he has been threatening voters with violence.Zinawi dispatched armed cadres allover and accross Ethiopia ahead of the election to ambush voters and rob off their valuable votes.Well,success means a lot to Ethiopians;for sure,voters will not fail us because Zinawi and the system he built for himself and Zinawians will definitely defeated.

    What does history tell everybody? Ethiopians,take yourself a short journey through the election debate.Zinawians representative can not lead our homeland because they don’t speak for the public’s interest because they are high level cadres who speak on behave of Zinawi.We don’t trust Zinawi with out country.

  7. Zenabu wakgera
    | #7

    If Really TPLF/EPRDF wants credibility and coduct themselves as a civilized government, the majority of Ethiopians would have been rallying behind them.After 2005 election no body trust this government except those hodames.Therefore they are scared to death to allow public demonstration or public gathering.

  8. azeb
    | #8


    KAEUP is a name change from AAPO (All Amhara People’s Organization) and cannot stand in the same line as MEDREK which at least tries to represent a number of ethnic groups and the largest population. You do not represent a silent majority, but a few disgrunted Amhars who aspire for the restoration of the old system where they dominated the poltical life of Ethiopia. The Ethiopian people know that it will not happen again and they want to make sure that what is engraved in the constitution in a way of respect of rights of nations will be implemented and there should be a reconciliation of all for the better.
    That is what is different with your poltical organization and other opposition groups.

  9. Anonymous
    | #9

    No matter how much is written and said change will not come in Ethiopia by peaceful means. A dictator who doesn’t believe in democracy and equality for all, and a criminal that has imprisoned, tortured and killed innocent people only believes in dictatorship. Melese and his comrades strongly believe that they should be the only ones who are skilled enough to rule a country; not the non- woyanee Ethiopians whom they have fooled in the past and think of all Ethiopians to be a bunch of ignorant. This election is fraud and a waste of time and money for the oppositions and the rest of Ethiopian citizens. The oppositions should be brave enough and boycott this election till all the political prisoners like Birtukan are freed to participate. Let us think…how in the world, we expect a free and fair elections from a group of people who have massacred young and old innocent Ethiopians? Have any of you ever heard Melese say he is a proud Ethiopian? Have you ever heard Melese say “our beloved country Ethiopia”? I think not. I listened the recent interview with Melese on, and it shows that, Melese acting like an Eritrean strongly supporting and defending Eritrea. Melese is a fraud, a liar, a thief, a murderer that won’t allow a free and fair election and should be removed by force.

  10. Drama
    | #10

    It is now becoming clear to me that Eskinder might be Weyane financed. Excuse me, what is all this bias statistics about? Statistics is never taken this way. Trying to sound like Western Media? Well, you better know how numbers and demographics are computed Mr. Eskinder. Even in the West, The wrong catagories of Statistics are sometimes misused by medias. This guy needs to stay away from making such reports. It sounds like the 2005 Preelections bias statistics where EPRDF would win by over 90% of the country’s vote.

  11. Drama
    | #11

    By the way Mr. Eskinder. It is the AEUP that was denied a rally by Mebrat Hayle, Mexico Square, in Addis Ababa. It could have turned out probably Millions but Weyane and the MEDREK Associates don’t want to see the 2005 reality. Where are you hiding that report? Isn’t that worth reporting just to show the activities of the regime? If you don’t support AEUP, it doesn’t mean you have to hide the mischiefs of the dictator. Obviously, Medrek was there to echo what has been performed by AEUP. It looks like to me that their job is to put AEUP’s work behind the scene acting like they can win the election. Sorry guys, things are becoming clearer everyday. Talk about women, Eskinder should not try to put his male view of women in Ethiopia. Just tell us we are 95% hoes serving the abundant disgusting men of the diaspora.

  12. aha!
    | #12

    Azeb! I did not write this commentary to you but to the author. You are not making sense anymore than using the strategy of TPLF/eprdf regime used when it called AAPO as the Dergue remnants and Neftegna, when even at the time when AAPO is not allowed to form other than ethnic organization by the TPLF/eprdf regime, even at that that organization was engaged for unity of Ethiopia as regards the seccssion and independence of Eritrea. I believe you are a hired mouth for TPLF/eprdf, speaking for Medrek as being the tourch bearer for unity, territorial integrity, sovereignity of Ethiopia and Ethiopians. Win or loose they are maintaining the ethnic agenda that of ethnicboundries, ethnic fedralism, rather than state fedreralism with multiple demographies to develop the the country according to ecological zones not ethnic zones as one country, one flag and one language, by developing the language and culture of all ethnic languages and cultures as a diversity of strength. Other countries are going past us in education, in science and technology, and human and infrastructure development in food production, while we tied to ethnic and seccssionist politics and thinking in terms of concepts of being colonized and being oppressed nationalities in stead of atleast being engaged for the freedom and liberty of individuals, rather than ethnic rights and/or seccessionist rights. Your camoflaged love affair for Medrek with TPLF/eprdf strategy does not work. Remember, there are Amharas in all parties as new and old teletafi parties of TPLF/eprdf and Tgrai-Harena/fdd/efdr as well as in Ginbot 7 and in UDJP. If that is the case why interchange KAEUP for AAPO. Afer all AAPO is not a party. Itis an organization protecting Ethiopian Nationalism and Ethiopian Interest beyond its ethnicity, that is what you need to understand.

  13. qiramessa
    | #13

    It is useless to cry for spilt milk. The new genrations of Oromo youth Only know Oromia and their language Oromifa. Oromia is done with your so called Amharigna alphbet and they are Qoobe genration for almost the past 20 years. Stop crying over spilt milk!! Fedralism is the only option you have got if you want to save Ethiopia.
    We all have some thing in common ,that is humanity and we both are Africans. If you respect us, we may live in common home Ethiopia. We also have our differences, For you and other Amharas, ethioianwint is destroying others identity ( by your stupid, old fashioned ONE language, ONE culture, ONE religion…in the name of unity propoganda.

    In your opinion ‘amaharizing’ others, promoting ‘habeshanism’ and habeshan culture by supressing othes is nationalism, but pomoting oromos culture and gambelians culture is ethinocentric!!!! Actually you have the right to day dream, that ship is sailed!! we are more concious and stronger than your little drama.

    I have red intently all your comments and I was not amazed by how increasingly paranoid you are, I was not also shocked by your position as much as I was amazed with the lousy reasons given by you. Respect what we want or we will fight you to the bitter end.

  14. justice for all
    | #14

    Azeb–which Amhara government are you talking about? You are a woyane or you are one of those who are persuaded by Issayass’ and Melass’ made up history that was created to help their agenda. If you still believe Haile Selassie and Mengestu were 100% Amharas, you are dead wrong. During Haile and Mengstu the Ethiopian government was well diverse unlike the Woyane regime that is controlling all government departments.

    You said:”…a few disgrunted Amhars who aspire for the restoration of the old system where they dominated the poltical life of Ethiopia.”

    Never in the history of Ethiopia only one ethnic group ever controlled Ethiopian govt. It is my understanding that Melass has been telling the out side world the exact same thing what you have mentioned above and that makes you a supporter of the only ethnic group that is controlling the whole Ethiopian govt. at the present time.

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