EPRDF has recognized the ethnic and religious diversity in the country. The accommodation of ethnic and religious pluralism is a constructive policy that should be maintained by the Prosperity Party. EPRDF has also, directly and indirectly, encouraged the formation of ethnic political parties, a policy that should be rejected by the Prosperity Party for many reasons. To begin with, a party system dominated by ethnic parties like ours is not compatible with the idea of accommodation of pluralism and democracy.
Ethnic parties are rigid because they ‘derive their support from an identifiable ethnic group and serve the interests of that group’. As such, ethnic parties exclude those who cannot identify with the ethnic group they claim to represent. In a multi-ethnic country like Ethiopia, the proliferation of ethnic parties created ‘several one-party ethnic states’ generating an extremely fragmented and fragile party system. Also, ethnic parties offer little or no policy choice for voters that belong to the ethnic groups they claim to represent.
Studies show that in a party system dominated by ethnic political parties, citizens ‘feel that they are trapped in ethnic-party zones and that they lack the freedom to form and choose parties other than the one or two parties who claim to represent their ethnic groups.’ In effect, ethnic communities become hostage to the whims of ethnic elites who obstruct political mobilization and alliances on grounds that are common to all communities in the country.
Another strong policy reason for the Prosperity Party to tone down ethnicity as a tool of mobilization is its extreme politicization that went on for the last several years. It has become common to hear ethnic political parties accusing each other of ‘anti-x-people’ policies and actions. Semantics aside, it is now clear that the EPRDF led politicization of ethnicity has eventually created numerous highly fragmented and volatile ethnic political parties that are bent on dragging communities that lived peacefully