P4P medium Grant 

“Democratisation and Ethno-Federalism in Ethiopia: shifting relationships between youths and parliaments at state and federal level”

Dr Nicole Beardsworth (PI), Professor Assefa Fiseha (Co-I)

Ethiopia’s institutions are becoming more open. These changes, driven by three years of youth-led popular protests, have reopened a conversation around Ethiopia’s ethno-federal institutions. Young people are an increasingly important political force in the country. In light of these changes, this project will put youths and MPs in conversation about the efficacy of the country’s representative institutions, and how they might be reformed to become more inclusive and representative of young people’s concerns. Over the course of the project, young Ethiopian researchers will be trained to undertake an ethnographic video project to allow youths in two of the country’s regions (Southern Nations, Nationalities, and People’s Region and Oromia) that were most affected by recent protests to express their views on: 1) their access to representative institutions and 2) the responsiveness of the state. These videos will then be used for advocacy purposes. The project will also work with MPs at both state and federal levels to train them on learning from and working with youth groups, conducting parliamentary outreach, and the role of legislative bodies. This is particularly important in light of the Prime Minister’s recent comments with regards to the need to reform and reinvigorate the country’s ethno-federal political system. The project is novel for putting young people and parliamentarians in conversation with each other using participatory film-making and bringing them together to think about how best to reform the country’s institutions. It will build on existing literature on Ethiopia’s ethno-federal political system and contribute to broader theory on bottom-up pressures for change and youth participation in reform and democratisation in developing countries.

 About the research team

Nicole Beardsworth is an ESRC postdoctoral fellow at the University of Warwick. Nicole holds a PhD in Politics from the University of Warwick, an MA in International Relations from the University of the Witwatersrand and an MSc in African Studies from the University of Oxford. Her PhD research focused on opposition parties and electoral coordination in Uganda, Zambia and Zimbabwe. Her broader research is on the history and politics of sub-Saharan Africa, with a focus on political parties, governance, democratisation and elections in Southern and Eastern Africa. You can follow her on Twitter at @nixiib.


Assefa Fiseha is a leading Ethiopian expert, researcher, academic and consultant in the area of Governance and he has published and consulted widely on comparative public law, legal and constitutional reform, comparative federalism, human rights, constitutional litigation and legal pluralism. He holds an advanced degree in Law and his PhD explored power sharing and federalism as mechanisms for managing diversity in multi-ethnic contexts. Assefa is currently an Associate Professor and Director of the Centre of Excellence in Good Governance at Addis Ababa University.