Alternative Electoral Systems and the 2005 Ethiopian Parliamentary Election

by John Ishiyama


What if an alternative set of electoral rules had been used to govern elections when an authoritarian regime introduces its first real competitive elections? Would this alter the trajectory of democratic transition, after the introduction of political competition? In this paper, I conduct a set of electoral simulations with different electoral systems using the results from the 2005 Ethiopian parliamentary election. Would the results have been different had something other than the single member district plurality system been employed in the 2005 election? Would the opposition parties have attained more seats and if so, how many more? I find that had certain electoral rules been employed (particularly the Block Plurality system), the opposition parties would have fared much better in the 2005 parliamentary elections, and this would have had an important impact affecting the course of events that immediately followed the 2005 election. This has important implications for the negotiations over the rules governing future Ethiopian elections.

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John Ishiyama is a professor of Political Science at the University of North Texas. He is the author or editor of four books and 101 articles (in such journals as the American Political Science Review, Perspectives on Politics, Comparative Political Studies, Comparative Politics, Political Science Quarterly, Political Research Quarterly, Social Science Quarterly, Europe-Asia Studies, Communist and Post Communist Studies, and Party Politics) and book chapters on political parties and ethnic politics in post communist Russian, European, and African politics and political science education. He is a research fellow at the University of Kansas’ Center for Russian and East European Studies and is Editor-in-Chief of the Journal of Political Science Education.