P4P Medium Grant
“Public engagement for strengthening parliamentary representation and deepening democracy”
Defferew Kebebe (PI), Challa Amdissa (Co-I), Aklilu Wubet (Co-I)
Public engagement is said to be essential to healthy democracy, as it ensures greater participation, increases public understanding of Parliament and its work, broadens the range of voices heard by Parliament, and potentially enhances legitimacy and trust. As trust in politics has fallen in representative democracy, public engagement has become a standard theme of modern democracy and a central activity for parliament (Leston-Bandeira, 2016). Low levels of interest in Parliament have been attributed to distrust and disenchantment with the wider political and governmental processes. Inclusive public engagement is considered critical to strengthening representative democracy.
Defferew and his team of fellow political scientists from Addis Ababa University were awarded a P4P Medium Grant to explore mechanisms for repairing trust in Ethiopia’s representative democracy, and thereby improving Parliamentarians’ engagement with marginalised groups in society. The team had the ambition of setting out a charter of desirable and realistic changes in Ethiopia’s political landscape, and validating this with a cohort that included researchers, members of the judiciary, civil society organisations, the media, public administration and civil service officials, and current and former politicians. New to the concept of integrating arts and humanities in research, the team were nevertheless enthusiastic in challenging themselves to think seriously and deeply about what this might look like in the context of their own project. In discussion with the artist Wondeson, Defferew and the team decided that a visual mode of representing their research findings and the kinds of change they want to see in the relationship between people and Parliamentarians could be distributed to federal parliaments and districts across the country, big market places, schools and universities and in public spaces to help generate reflections, feedback and engagement amongst a range of people in Ethiopia.
Research-based artistic posters, created by the artist Wondesan in collaboration with P4P Grant awardees Defferew Kebebe, Challa Amdissa and Aklilu Wubet.