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The Ethiopian Voter: An Assessment of Economic and Ethnic Influences with Survey Data

Leonardo R. Arriola
International Journal of Ethiopian Studies
Vol. 3, No. 1 (Winter / Spring 2007), pp. 73-90
Published by: Tsehai Publishers
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/27828878
Page Count: 18
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The Ethiopian Voter: An Assessment of Economic and Ethnic Influences with Survey Data
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Abstract

Did economic factors affect voter choices in Ethiopia's parliamentary elections? While most students of Ethiopian politics focus on sociological factors such as ethnic identity and political culture to explain the electoral outcomes of 15 May 2005, I show in this article that economic factors also influenced whether a voter decided to support the opposition or the ruling party. I use data from the country's first pre-election survey, undertaken by Initiative Africa, to assess the impact of economic, regional, ethnic, and demographic variables on voter choices between the opposition and the ruling party. I find a statistically significant relationship between a voter's individual economic conditions and his or her choices over parties: voters who believe their living standard declined over the previous five years and unemployed voters were more likely to vote for the opposition, regardless of ethnicity or region. This finding suggests that a more nuanced and complete analysis of voter behavior in Ethiopia must account for the influence of economic factors.

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