Examining the Design of the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopian Constitution in the Light of Arend Lijphart’s Guidelines of Constitutional Design for Divided Societies
Consociational democracy model is a political model developed by Arend Lijphart as a solution to the problem of unstable democracy in divided societies. Its core idea is that in a divided societies, stable democracy can be realized if diversities are acknowledged and accommodated through mechanisms of a grand coalition, minority veto, proportional representation,and segmental autonomy. However, Lijphart remarks that the practical effectiveness of consociational model presupposes wise constitutional design for which he provided nine main guidelines of constitutional design for divided societies (hereinafter
shortly referred as, Lijphart’s guidelines): 1) Proportional legislative electoral system, 2) Using the simplest form of proportional electoral system, 3) Establishing parliamentary form of government, 4) Power-sharing in the executive, 5) Ensuring cabinet stability, 6) A
ceremonial head of the state who is not directly elected by the people, 7) Adopting federalism and decentralization, 8) Granting non-territorial autonomy, and 9) Powersharing beyond the cabinet and parliament.
This article examined to what extent the design of the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopian Constitution (Hereinafter shortly referred as, the FDRE Constitution) reflects Lijphart’s nine guidelines mainly by analyzing the provisions of the Constitution vis-a-vis the guidelines or by considering the existing prevailing political practice in some cases. The overall findings of the examination are summarized into four areas. These are:
1) Areas where the design of the Constitution totally deviated from Lijphart’s guidelines;
2) Areas where the design of the Constitution remained silent as to Lijphart’s guidelines;
3) Areas where the design of the Constitution corresponded to Lijphart's guidelines in
form but deviated or at least has potential to deviate in substance; and
4) Areas where the design of the Constitution fully corresponded to Lijphart’s guidelines
The deviations (both in form and substance, or in substance alone), or the silences of the Constitution as to the guidelines are mainly because of the choice of electoral system, lack of explicit constitutional provisions, the absence of established political practice, or silence of the constitution.