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The political parties of any country are expected to remain committed to the political and economic improvement of their country. As one of the main intermediaries between the state and citizens, one would therefore expect political parties to have a key role in achieving a democratic and peaceful transition. This article focuses on the contribution, actual or potential, of political parties to political transitions. The objective of this study is to examine the roles of political parties in ongoing reform efforts and the challenges they face in Ethiopia. The paper reports mainly on the findings of semi-structured interviews with local and national politicians carried out during 2020 as well as an analysis of political parties’ programs. This study indicates that political parties are the main agents of political representation, and play a crucial role in articulating and aggregating citizens’ demands in democracies. As such, this study argues that political parties have a major role to play in political transitions though, in Ethiopia, they have generally not lived up to expectations. The findings reveal that the very nature of transition and the prevailing character of political parties in Ethiopia have inhibited that role. The study concludes that the unpredictability of post-reform trends, a weak political culture, and inefficiency of political parties, which are in turn related to the nature of party systems, prompted political instability which in turn hampered the anticipated political transition in Ethiopia.
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