In Defence of Participatory Democracy and against
Revolutionary Democracy and Liberal Democracy:
9 May, 2010 | By Teodros Kiros (Ph.D)
Contemporary Ethiopia ought to reject the moribund democracy of the ruling regime
and the liberal democracy of the future that some members of the opposition are already
Ethiopia needs participatory democracy, as the politicalform of its immediate future, a
future that is simultaneously an ideal and a strategy, which needs the participation of the Ethiopian
people, so as to bring about the desperately needed alternative to the sham democracy of the ruling regime.
The ruling regime is neither revolutionary nor democratic, as it is nothing more than a regime, which lives on hand outs, and mismanages the handouts themselves by advancing its own interests and sacrificing
the nationís interests.
The historic nation of Ethiopia is populated by a historic people, who produced the Obelisks at Aksum, the churches of Lalibela, the classical songs of King Yared, the literary productions of Emperor
Zara Yacob, the philosophical orature of the Oromos, the art works of Gambella, the lash and green of the south, and of course, the philosophical masterpieces of Zara Yacob.
These great people are not merely illiterate peasants that the ruling regime claims to enlighten. On the contrary these historic people of the land are already self-enlightening but live in the dungeons of revolutionary democracy, which is neither freedom giving nor life nourishing.
The heart of participatory democracy is the parity of participation.By parity I understand the essential right and corresponding power that the ordinary citizen has to effect change in her life, by voicing
her opinion of what she wants, and articulating her actual capability to realize her life plans.
Her life chances are not decided by destiny but by resources, psychological ability and mental and physical conditions. The citizen who is seeking to change her life is allowed to do so by voicing her needs and deliberating about the means of actually attaining them.
The repeated and regular practices of voicing, reasoning, judging and effecting change, will in the course of time develop democratic citizens unafraid and capable of voicing needs, reasoning and judging well. The democratic polityís function is precisely to trust citizens,without any formal education to participate in the domain of developing institutions of everyday life that are supportive of citizens who decide collectively as citizens who have internalized feeling, judging and reasoning competently.
Both revolutionary democracy and liberal democracy do not empower the ordinary Ethiopian citizen. Revolutionary democracy runs the show by empowering incompetent party members to decide for the citizen, and
liberal democracy brings political experts to enlighten the citizen through meaningless votes.
Only through the parity of participation can the ordinary Ethiopian citizen learn democracy by practicing democracy. The recent moves of Venezuelan democracy are a model for the opposition, if the opposition
is committed to the happiness of the Ethiopian people, and not the gratification of seasoned politicians, in the hands of whom the Ethiopian people continue to suffer.
Future articles will delve deeply into the contours and complexities of Participatory Democracy.
Dr. Teodros Kiros, is a Senior Editor at Ethio Quest News.
He can be reached at