Strong local level important factor for democratic development

Local governance is supposed to be easily accessible for people. Councilors and local politicians are responsible for those political, economic and social affairs that most impact upon citizens’ lives.

On May 12, the Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung (FES) and the Center for Federal Studies of the Addis Abeba University facilitated an experience sharing session on issues of local governance and on its respective developmental role in Germany and in Ethiopia. Guests form the academia, Ministries, the Ethiopian Civil Service University, civil society, political parties, think-tanks and various media representatives attended the event.

Prof. Dr. Herta Däubler-Gmelin, former German Minister of Justice, shared some relevant German experiences by stating that, in Germany, the local and municipal elections give the electorate diverse options to participate in local policy making, up to the popular vote of the city mayors – in contrast to the proportional vote for the city councils that is based on party list.

Dr. Zemelak Ayele, lecturer at Addis Ababa University, then described the developmental role of local governments in Ethiopia”. His speech was followed by Dr. Assefa Fisseha, Director for the Center for Federal Studies, who presented preliminary findings of a recent study on “Autonomy and Functioning of Local Governments in Tigray Regional State”. He emphasized that due to lack of own revenues compared to most other Ethiopian regions, Tigray regional state mostly relies on block grants provided by the Federal Government which can lead to some misappropriations at local level.

During the lively discussions, the need to empower local communities was clearly identified as an important factor in moving towards an even more sustainable democratic development in Ethiopia.