By BEREKET DEREJE MAY 16, 2015
With only 8 days left to Ethiopia’s fifth national elections, Ethiopian activists are set to conduct an online poll to survey the public’s opinion on the ruling front’s performance over the last decades.
The poll is a collaborative effort by the Ethiopian Human Rights Project, an NGO seeking to bolster human rights advocacy works in Ethiopia, and mircha.org, a website by Ethiopian activists that tracks human rights violations during the elections.
“We believe that this poll will provide some kind of a platform for Ethiopians to express their assessment of the performance of the ruling EPRDF on some of the core social, political and economic issues, which would have been on the ballot had there been an open and fair election environment,” organizers said in a statement.
According to Gizeyat’s research, the survey is to feature questions on economic growth & equitable wealth distribution, good governance & human rights, the federalism system, foreign affairs policy, basic infrastructure provisions, and on the rule of law & independence of the judiciary system.
“In countries were there is a better election environment, the media hold wide-ranging discussions and pre-election public opinion polls. This is also how candidates measure their approval ratings and prepare themselves,” the organizers stated. “And under prevailing circumstances in our country, we found the Internet to be a better medium to express opinions freely.”
Organizers say the aim of the poll is to show the real sentiment of an otherwise known result of the May 24th elections.
However, it is not clear how well the poll is promoted in Ethiopia, and how accurately it could reflect the majority’s opinion given Ethiopia’s censorship and low Internet penetration. Other concerns include whether proper mechanisms are in place to ensure it is free from manipulation, or if it will be monitored by independent bodies.
The opinion poll — prepared both in Amharic and Afaan Oromo — will run from May 17th to 22nd in a website yet to be made public by the organizers.
Two days after the online poll, Ethiopians will head to polling stations to cast their votes in an election where opposition groups are reportedly accusing the government of harassment and illegal detentions.