About a month ago, I heard you saying “the government [Ethiopian] wants to reform an electoral system which has excluded the opposition.” Few months ago, I heard you saying that you received 51% of the overall votes in all 9 states. You also said that “you want to reform the electoral system so the voices of those who are not represented can also be heard in the parliament.” According to your statement, “Because of this electoral system 51 percent of votes is enough to win all the seats.” I was wondering the German Chancellor, Angela Merkel, who was standing next to you was thinking when she heard these statements. She knows how hard it was to win a slim majority in her Bundestag of Germany (a national German’s parliament). In the 2013 national election, Chancellor Merkel’s sister parties, the Christian Democratic Union and the Christian Social Union of Bavaria, won 311(49.4%) of the 630 parliament’s seats with 45.3% of the popular vote. Eventually, the Chancellor has to find a partner party since she was short of majority seats by her own party. If the elections are fair and square, with binary outcomes such that you win or lose (assuming some opposing parties), the percentage of your parliament seats shouldn’t be far from the percentage of the popular votes your party won. The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree, which can be a good analogy to the percentages of the popular votes and the parliament seats. It is not lightly when I say the percentage of seats you won cannot be far from the popular vote; I really meant that it is mathematically impossible.
As you know, numbers don’t lie. Unlike politics, that you can’t twist, change or amend the outcomes. For any given input, the output is pretty much known. Before your Bachelor in Civil Engineering from AAU, I assume that you had at least a course in probability; and if that is the case, I hate to preach the choir. The probability of receiving 100 % of the seats in Ethiopian parliament with 51% popular vote is next to impossible unless the election is rigged, unfair or there is no opposition in most of the 547 districts of representative. To make things very simple, as you said you have 51% popular vote, which means in any of the 547 districts of representative, the probability of your winning is 0.51, and the probability of your losing is 0.49. That said, the probability of winning all 547 seats of the House of People Representatives is the same as multiplying 0.51 by itself 547 times or equivalently, (0.51)547 ≈ 0, a very small number. To make it much understandable, let me take in consideration, a higher probability of winning a district as a 90% of the popular vote; however, sweeping all the parliamentary seats is impossible. The probability of winning all is the same as multiplying 0.9 by itself 547 times or in mathematical term,, (0.9)547 = 0.00000000000000000000000009347, approximately a chance of one in 1024. Let me put it this way; the odds of winning the American Powerball jackpot lottery back-to-back for three times has approximately the same odds of winning all the parliamentary seats in Ethiopia with 90% chance of receiving the popular votes. IT can only happen if your government or party for that matter manipulates the boundaries (gerrymandering) of the 547 districts of the country to favor your desire of sweeping the seats. I think you got the idea. For the sake of argument, let me think of a scenario where there was no opposing party in half of the districts. That is a possible scenario in the country when considering the consequences of being political opponent, the difficulties to campaign freely or limitation of resources. Under such scenario, let us agree that you were the sole political entity to campaign around and win half seats without competition, about 273 seats. Similarly, let us agree the remaining half seats had gone through fierce but fair competition between you and the opposition for the seats. If I take your words on the popular votes as 51% to EPRDF and allies, then you are expected to win only another 140 seats where you had a competition with about 413 seats altogether; and that leaves about 133 seats for opposition. EPRDF’s attempt to convince the world on sweeping all seats of the parliament with 51% popular votes is an absolute lie; but, numbers never lie. Legitimately, the probability of achieving 100% parliamentary seats is much closer to zero, I mean really closer! Even by relaxing the chance of winning the popular votes to 90%, the probability of sweeping all 273 seats is not much better than zero, with actual probability of only 0.0000000000003223. To make comparison, the odds of winning the Powerball jackpot is 1 in 292 million (the probability of winning the Powerball is 0.000000003425); winning the lottery has about ten thousand times better chance than sweeping the 273 (half of all) seats for EPRDF. Mathematically, it is not as easy as the usual politics. To say “we had 100% of the parliamentary seats with 51% of the popular votes” is a statement difficult to support mathematically unless the election was far from fairness, full of intimidations and jam-packed with harassments. This should be the fact on the ground as numbers never lie.
Your Excellency Prime minister Hailemariam,
I am not politician nor I would like to be one; I am a math junkie who has a problem to sit down and wonder when numbers are twisted and misused for political scores. Yes, politician love to use numbers in such a way to suit the outcome they would like to see, but I have never seen numbers being twisted this bad just to score political points. If I cite your another statement, you want to reform the electoral system, in your word, “that has excluded the opposition to win”. I don’t see a problem with the current electoral system that reflects the “majority rule” principle as long as the minorities have a room to exercise their rights as viable opposition. The German Chancellor, who was standing next to you, was elected to become a Chancellor based on a system that embraces a majority rule. In Ethiopia, the problem is not the electoral system; the problem is the systematic process in place just to exclude others who are not allying with you. As you were on board of the EPRDF’s wagon late in the game, I believe you took your time to analyze and study the good, the bad and the ugly of this party before joining. You were never dragged into the party as adolescent, when adventure overtakes a rational thinking nor peer-pressured as a “cool thing” that worthwhile joining. I think you took your time by slicing and dicing the ups and the downs of being part of such a political platform. Although I am far away from Ethiopia, I have witnessed through time that the EPRDF is intolerant with thin-skinned senior leaders. Since its inception, the front has never been known as open and inclusive, rather known to hunt down individuals or institutes with opposing ideas, with “my way or the highway” as the principal guideline of the front. We may go back to Tigray, to the place where hundreds of other Ethiopians were slaughtered because either they were different or they were against ethnocentrism ideology of the front. That was then and I think all are willing to forget and forgive. You are in the driver’s seat now and you are expected to change the “old boys’ club” and make your party a trustworthy political institution that learned from its past. Perhaps, I suggest you go back to the drawing board and try to undo what has been done in 2015 election, a fair and square election that encompasses all. You need to invite fellow Ethiopian with open arms and open heat to let them participate in the country’s political process today, not tomorrow. The time of “all Ethiopians are equal but some are more equal” should have been ceased under your leadership. Ethiopia has to be for all Ethiopian, a land of her all citizens, with full right to reside anywhere in the country peacefully with respect to each other. That is a birth right! Period!! I am sure you know how unfair the past election was, but it is up to you to correct that. I don’t want to see the country slowly or abruptly slide into chaos, violence and civil unrest, no one will come out of that as a winner, rather than all lose such a bad game. We witnessed what has happened to other nations in Africa, Mideast and Europe; we have seen nations scrambling and languishing in wars with no end in sight. Enough is enough! We were busy fighting each other for hundreds of years. Unfortunately, we have very little to show compared to our existence on the land. One’s work was eradicated by the incoming, or during wars and violence. It is up to you, the prime minister to change the direction and calm the anger of the people. If you realize, it is simply too much of greed, too much of selfishness and too much of corruption on your watch. The country became a land of the selected few, who are able to send their children to Europe and America for primary schooling whereas; the million others work harder just to get by. Today, many Ethiopian are left out or behind as dependent of foreign aids to feed their children from-year-to-year. Thanks to the EPRDF for skewing the wealth distribution towards few, by favoring its cronies and ignoring the vast majority. That has to change. Your political organization alone has been in power for the past 25 years and it is time to try something new. Change has to come to Ethiopia without killing more. The people have suffered a lot with more poverty today than it has been 25 years ago. The Gross Domestic Product may grow since you took over with rosy pictures that look great from distance. But, who is growing and who is benefiting? I will let you take your time, look around and answer them. Nowadays for sure, millions of Ethiopians are spectators (YEBEYI TEMELKACH) of few others while they dine and wine. Whether you like it or not, eventually, the fate of this country is determined by its people, however, you have a chance now to start a peaceful transfer of power to the people and only to the people of Ethiopia. It is up to you to make the choice. Either you can follow the footsteps of your predecessors and drag the country into a sea of violence or you do the right thing and make Ethiopia a shining city on the hill that enjoys the love of her children. Americans love George Washington not because he was the first president of the union, but, he was the first leader to hand over power peacefully. I think it is not too late be the first George Washington of Ethiopia if the people pick somebody else as your successor.