Shifting Blame, Making/Breaking Alliances: the Corporate Identity of Opposition Parties
By Ermias Mekasha
There are two things, among others, the opposition political parties in Ethiopia have in common. One is they are making and breaking alliances among themselves at a very faster rate than expected while the other is they always shift blame on the incumbent government for whatever goes wrong with them.
Making alliance or merger is the common characteristics of the opposition parties. Several of them are usually heard to make alliances or mergers, like made recently by the Unity for Democracy and Justice Party (UDJ), and Birhan for Unity and Democracy (Birhan).
Actually, there is nothing wrong with making alliance/merger among political parties since doing so gives them more strength in their struggle to compete with a dominant and visionary party as such as the EPRDF. The real problem with the opposition parties is that their alliance or merger couldn’t last long for they usually have extremely opposing views that could lead them to their grave. The lust for power which is reflected in almost all leaderships of the opposition parties is the other major factor for the breaking of the alliance/merger soon.
The country has seen many opposition parties, whose political agendas are diametrically opposite, and whose leaders’ passion for seizing power is beyond limit, to make alliance but break it soon after.
The CUD, the Coalition of several opposition parties is a typical example for this. The CUD had disintegrated in the aftermath of the 2005 elections because of the quarrel among the leaders over the parties and the bipolar political agendas they advance. The ambition to control and dominate one party by the other had led to the disintegration of the Coalition. They make alliance/merger for one reason—the desire to remove the ruling party, EPRDF, from power. But desire alone couldn’t help them rout out their irreconcilable differences or nor help them remain united and remove their opponent, EPRDF, from power.
Sometimes, the frequency to which opposition parties break their alliance is faster than the ink they sign up the pact could dry up. This is surely the manifestation of their irreconcilable political views in which they advance while it shows how they are politically unstable among themselves.
Several parties are presently are heard to make alliances which is assumed as making preparation to win in the 5th national elections to be held in the years ahead.. The so called UDJ, and Birhan, and MEDREK, a group of several political parties are heard to make alliance or unity. But as experience shows their unity couldn’t last long since it isn’t not based on strong foundation.
The other problem with the opposition parties is that they neither concede defeat nor have the will to blame themselves for the mistakes they do and shift the blame on a third party—the government.
Whatever goes wrong with them, it is the government to blame. Whenever they make and break alliances among themselves, it is the government to blame. Whenever they lose election, they make the government responsible for it. I think, the government is their “Snowball”.
Snowball is one of the major characters in the famous book, Animal Farm, authored by George Orwell. The story of Animal Farm starts and ends in the farm, which is owned by the animals following a spontaneous revolution they waged against the tyranny of human beings with a view to forming an utopian state. Though Snowball was mastermind of the revolution that led to the downfall of the humans, he was expelled from the farm by Napoleon, the leader of the animals. Starting from that time, the infamous Napoleon, and his political puppet, Squirrel start accusing Snowball for their failures. For instance, they shifted the blame on Snowball for the repeated failures of the construction of a windmill, an idea of Snowball stolen by Napoleon, though it was known that Snowball was no more resident at the farm since he was condemned to live in exile. Anyhow, for every mistake they make, they attribute it to Snowball.
That was what the opposition parties do here in Ethiopia--blaming the government-- for their failure. Though it was a public knowledge that the extremely opposing views in which the coalition parties under the CUD used to advance that led to them to disintegration, they blamed the government for it. Other oppositions did the same.
Moreover, overcome by desperation caused by their crushing defeat in the election held on May 23, 2010, the leaders of the opposition parties, instead of accepting that they lost the election because of lack of trust among voters, take the government as responsible for their embarrassing defeat.
In the aftermath of the 4th national elections, the opposition parties have made a quick move to create a face-saving excuse for their humiliating defeat in the election in a futile attempt to convince the public and the international community. After losing all but two federal and regional parliamentary seats to their opponents, the ruling EPRDF and allied parties, they shifted the blame to their usual scapegoat—the incumbent government.
The opposition parties, who have no the culture of accepting neither defeat with bless nor make themselves accountable for their failures, are best known to shift the blame on others.
Their old plot had failed, but formed a fresh one. It was vote rigging and fraud, which were their usual excuses for their defeat in the previous elections (2005). This time (in 2010 election) with no proven election fraud and irregularities reported by foreign observers deployed in the country, the opposition parties were left with no option but to create new excuse for their loss in the election--voters “intimidation”. This was nothing but a lame excuse.
They used to brag before the election that they have mass-based support that can make them uncompromising winner. But the day (May 23, 2010) in which they would be judged by the public uncovered who the opposition parties really were.
What happened to their mass support they used boast of earlier? Did it vanish into thin air all of a sudden or what? How could they could be defeated in almost all constituencies if they really have the support of the people as they claimed? Was it really an “intimidation” perpetrated by the government, as they claimed, that turned the entire voters against them? I don’t think so.
Though intimidation (if there was any at all) may force many people to vote against their wish, it could not turn almost the entire population (32 million voters) to act against their wish and vote for the ruling party especially given the prevalence of confidentiality of voting. Logically, people could not act against their wish especially when they are alone or enjoy privacy.
Since vote casting was made in a secret ballot in the country, a substantial number of potential supporters (if they really had as they claimed) could have voted for opposition parties with out fear or with out being bothered to be noticed by any one. In other words, voters were totally free to vote for any party they like since they enjoy privacy while casting votes particularly in polling booths.
So, unless the opposition parties say the voters did not vote for them for fear of the ghosts of EPRDF who might be watching them from the rooftops of polling booths, the electors were free to make their choice. Neither was surveillance cameras erected in polling booths that might make voters refrain from making their choice.
Even if the electorate had been “intimidated” by the government, as claimed, the entire population (voters) could not be silenced especially at the polling day in the presence of foreign observers. Especially many of the supporters of the opposition parties (if they indeed have that much at all) who cast their votes in polling stations where foreign observers were deployed, would have voted for opposition parties.
The political instability which usually rocks opposition parties mainly caused by lust for power among their leaders which is often reflected in the repeated cycle of making and breaking alliances among the parties have further escalated the doubts of the public on their political integrity and leadership quality.
It is not uncommon to hear the leaders, whose suppressed super-ego for power often surfaces whenever their parties fall in to many factions, cursing and screaming at each other at public forums or media. This irresponsible behavior is the last thing the public expects even from ordinary citizens, leave alone from the people to be their leaders. This has badly tarnished their already doubtable leadership maturity and skill among the people.
Their flat denial to all tangible changes brought to the country by the ruling party has further eroded their trust among the pubic. They turn deaf ears to the visible rapid economic development registered straight for seven years and concrete changes brought in social and political spheres by the government. The people, who do not want any political party to lie to them like the opposition parties do, by failing to recognize the visible changes, lost their confidence in them.
The opposition parties also failed to convince the wider public as to what will be the fate of the nation if they are elected. Rather than providing alternatives of their own which is reliable and realistic to the voters, they usually capitolize on discontents and weakness of the ruling party. They could not expect the electorate to buy their rhetoric but empty words and promises they provided during the election campaign which cannot buy neither development nor bread.
I think, all these along other reasons piled up together has stripped the leaders of the opposition parties off their lust for power, which led their parties to their blowing defeat in the past elections. Anyhow, why not they see inwards rather than outwards and find out the real reasons why the pubic hate them and lose its trust, instead of blaming the shift on the government.
It is stupidity to expect the wider public to cast their votes in elections to them who do not have visions beyond themselves. The existing opposition parties, whose leaderships have been soiled beyond redemption in terms of public trust, are the last political entities this nation needs. The worn-out ideologies and political rigidity, in which the obstinate leaders pursue, are incapable of winning the trust of the public.
Making merger/alliance among them, like made recently by the UDJ and Birhan, with out first making remedies on their orthodox and unacceptable political outlooks, couldn’t take their leaders no where, except leading them to where they belong, the grave, while turning their highly volatile political parties into total oblivion.
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