Any government is responsible among other things for arranging the day-to-day business of the nation. _As the initiator of policy, it indicates which action it wishes parliament to take, and explains and defends its position in statements and public debate. Parliament is responsible for making the Government accountable for its actions. The effectiveness of the party system in parliament rests largely on the relationship between the government and the opposition parties. In general, the aims of the Opposition are among others to:
* contribute to the formulation of policy and legislation by constructive criticism
* oppose government proposals it considers objectionable; seek amendments to government bills
* Put forward its own policies in order to improve its chances of winning the next general election.
The party with the greatest number of elected representatives outside the governing party becomes the Loyal Opposition. This party takes the lead in holding the Government accountable for its policies and actions. The leader of this party becomes the Leader of the Official Opposition.
The duty of the Official Opposition and other opposition parties is to oppose, criticizing government policies and suggesting improvements, and presenting an alternative the
current Government’s policy agenda. Opposition members have various opportunities to influence the formulation of laws and policies in parliament. The opposition can propose a motion for debate in the parliament and criticize the Government on issues of broad national policy. Members of opposition parties also serve on parliamentary committees.
The Leader of the Opposition has few official functions according to legislation or parliamentary rules. Elected by the minority party caucus or conference at organizational meetings prior to the start of a new parliament, the opposition leader among others speaks for the opposition party and its policies.
Further, he or she strives to protect the opposition party’s rights, organizes and leads criticisms of the majority party and devises parliamentary tactics and strategies that can put to best use the abilities of his/her party to influence legislative outcomes. Also the leader chairs the party’s committee assignment panel.
The duty of the opposition is to oppose, but times have changed. Therefore, we also expect them to come up with a worthy alternative to the ideas the party in power seeks to implement regarding the issues of the day.
Unfortunately most of the Opposition parties in Ethiopia usually persist in opposing and refuse to do the harder work of coming up with worthy policy alternatives. The end result is that not only do the opposition’s ideas lack style, they lack substance as well. The answer may have something to do with how our conception of the role of the opposition has changed. Nowadays and this should be hailed as a sign of maturity in the Ethiopian political process we not only expect opposing politicians to start to act united. But also come up with a sound and intelligent to agendas and workable alternative policies. They should not spend a good time simply to oppose for the sake of opposing but to bring positive alternatives. Generally, it is good to have such reflexive opposition who are willing to reach out to their ruling party colleagues in working on Socio-economic and political reform. And the numbers of like-minded opposition parties willing to defy their party’s orthodoxy on issues of national interest may very well grow in the future.
On the other hand however, if the opposition parties stick to their ideals only, then there is a danger to the democratic process in Ethiopian. That may be unfair, but politics often is. And most of the opposition parties appear entirely incapable of dealing with the priorities of the nation they are in. The priority of the country is simple: peace, stability, poverty reduction, and sustainable development. The country has now embarked on these and other important issues.
The government seems to be determined to tackle those issues. Therefore, the opposition must show not only their preparedness in collaborating with the government but also their determination to do their share in addressing those priority number ones of the public at large.__The credibility of the leadership and members of the opposition will be put in question if they are not doing their share in addressing those and other developmental issues critical to change this country for the better for once and for all.
The opposition should therefore focus less on political provocation and agitation for personal political gain and put more attention on pertinent social and economic issues that will enhance and advance development of Ethiopia._
The biggest problem with the current opposition leadership is not that they have lost their will to bring positive alternatives but that they have lost the power to think. When was the last intellectually innovative idea we heard from the leadership of the opposition? It is well and good for a political party to take the time to carefully select those who will serve as its public face, but no politician, no matter how charismatic or popular, is going to be able to succeed without an idea-generating political structure.
These opposition members may think that the biggest problem with their party is that it now has leadership who is best known for yelling and screaming or provoking in public. _But the opposition’s collective weakness is a deafening silence when it comes to the battle of ideas and the challenge of putting forth an affirmative, alternative and workable agenda in this country.