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The Revolutionary Democracy of Ethiopia: A Wartime Ideology Both Shaping and Shaped by Peacetime Policy Needs

  • Lovise Aalen (a1)


The Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF), victor in the civil war in 1991, has since transformed into an authoritarian party. While this transition is well covered in the literature, few studies have explored how the party’s ideology has adapted after its position was consolidated. This article addresses this gap, by analysing the EPRDF’s ideology of revolutionary democracy, and how the interpretation of it has changed over time. The Ethiopian case shows that wartime ideologies should not be considered as static remnants of the past. Instead, the ideology has served as a flexible political tool for controlling the state and for justifying or concealing major policy changes. More recent protests and ruptures in the ruling party, however, indicate that revolutionary democracy may have an expiry date. There seems thus to be a limit to how long a wartime ideology can provide power to uphold a rebel government’s hegemony and coherence.


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