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‘The feeling I had after that game was heartbreaking’ – The anatomy of a Leinster final shock –

Posted: December 6, 2019 at 10:46 pm

Mid-December, and seemingly mid-apocalypse, it was, as Crokes forward Mick OKeeffe told the AIB-sponsored 'Club Chronicles' mini-documentary about the saga, "like the trenches in the Battle of the Somme".

Magee, writhing in the mud, was simultaneously immobilised by agony and unable to lie still such was the excruciating cold.

When he finally rose, the distinctive purple and gold of Crokes was barely visible under the quilt of muck and earth on his jersey. After 60 torturous minutes, the score stood at 0-7 to 0-7.

It being a replay, match regulations stipulated extra-time.

ire gs frenzied pursuit of their equalising point had drained every last droplet of energy from the team, though. So Joe Murphy, one of their players and the current manager of the Carlow club, approached referee Brian White.

"I knew we were spent at that stage," he admitted in the film. "Extra-time wasnt going to suit us. So I went over to Brian and I said: 'look Brian, my eyesight is very, very bad. Its going to become a health and safety issue if we play extra-time. I can barely see now. If something happens, someone is going to have to be held responsible.' It was sort of a bluff, just to see if we could do anything.

"But I think Brian had enough of the day as well. He was freezing as well. So he said 'OK, well go to a third game'.

That game was played on January 31, 1999 in Newbridge, the same venue as the first draw.

Ten minutes in, ire g were 1-5 to 0-1 up. Their goal was scored by Willie Quinlan, who missed the second match after having two of his ribs broken in the first game after a collision he wrongly suspected had involved Magee.

In the end, ire g won by three.

The result devastated Magee, who had invested heavily in trying to win a second provincial title for his club after his grandfather passed away during the saga.

"I was trying to do it for my Mam, my father and my family," he reflected tearily all of 20 years later.

"The feeling I had after that game was heartbreaking. You put your whole life on hold."

The story of that game was retold as a classic of the club fairy tale genre, the small side overcoming disadvantages of population and size to knobble the big one.

Yet the histories of the two clubs at the time made a fallacy of the easy clich.

"That was their fifth Leinster title in seven years," as Magee points out now. "And yet, for some reason, we were heavy favourites."

It wouldnt be the last time Magee found himself in the role of vanquished Goliath in a Leinster club final.

Last year he was joint-manager of Crokes when they were beaten by Mullinalaghta, the half-parish on the Longford/Cavan border who became the first club from Longford to compete in a Leinster final.

The GAA nation rejoiced. Size didnt matter after all.

Heart. Pride. Parish.

These were celebrated as forces far stronger than the benefits of numbers and facilities.

The Friday after the final, the Mullinalaghta squad made an appearance on The Late Late Show.

"That was pretty hard," Magee admits now.

"Like, Mullinalaghta didnt have the monopoly on heart and desire and the sense of parish.

"Thats not why they beat us. They beat us because they played better in the final and fair play to them.

"Stillorgan is seen as this big, populated area and yeah, our membership has shot through the roof. But were still proud of our parish, even though its a bigger one.

"Any time weve won a county championship and you go on in Leinster theres such a buzz and a vibe around the club.

"It brings everyone together and its a special thing to be part of. Thats the very same for a big, Dublin club as it is for a small rural one."

The anatomy of a Leinster club final shock is one Magee has studied in painful depth.

For a start, size is over-rated. Club success is about the blend of the people in your squad at the relevant moments, not the number of quality of players who dont make it.

"Peoples perception of club football is always coloured by their perception of inter-county football," he stresses.

Magee has won and lost in Leinster and he is convinced the intricacies of winter football are too unpredictable to negotiate without fortune and favour.

Late in the first game against ire g in 1998, Ray Cosgrove bent a shot from under the stand in St Conleths Park towards the town end goal.

To most people in Newbridge that day, the curve of his kick had lured it comfortably inside the post, although the umpire waved for a wide.

Last year, as Magee recalls, Crokes conceded a penalty in the last minute to Mullinalaghta.

Paul Mannion had blazed a scorching trail through the Dublin and Leinster championships but a hamstring injury finally caught up with him.

Ditto Cian OSullivan.

And the extreme elements under which these games are played form the perfect conditions for a surprise.

"Club football in December is completely different to club football even at the end of October," Magee reckons.

"The ground is different.

"You cant recover from making a mistake in winter football the way you can in summer football because of the conditions.

"Winter football is a huge leveller when it comes to pace around the field."

Experience is a strong currency.

Last year was Crokes' first Dublin SFC title in eight years and their turnover of players was such that only a handful had been part of their last Leinster campaign.

Mullinalaghta had completed a three-in-a-row of Longford titles and their graph in Leinster was pointing skyward after two competitive winters.

It stood to them against Crokes.

As the possibility of one of the shocks of the GAA season rose with each wasted Crokes possession and each turnover Mullinalaghta forced, the Longford side seemed to cling ever more tightly to their script while the Dublin team forgot theirs.

"We went away a bit from the game plan, which happens when youre under pressure and you dont have that sort of experience," Magee says. "We invited trouble on to ourselves and we got punished for it.

"But they were a much more experienced side than we were. The same with ire g.

"They would have much more recent experience going into the Leinster championship than Ballyboden."

On Sunday, ire g compete in their first Leinster final since beating Kilmacud Crokes on the last day of January, 1999.

They play a Ballyboden St Endas team who have made a habit this year of starting games slowly and finishing like a bullet train.

For all the Firhouse teams expected presence in Portlaoise as soon as they won Dublin, ire g are have been edging back to a provincial final these past three years.

And given how vivid their memory of their golden years is, theyll have envisaged the possibility of being kings of Leinster again as soon as they won Carlow.

Other than St Vincents and Portlaoise (seven each), no team has as many Leinster titles as ire g, and no-one in the competitions history has had such a concentration of success as they had in those seven years in the nineties.

In an organisation as obsessed with tradition as the GAA, that can have a deep effect on a teams mindset.

Sen Gannon, one of their key men this year, said as much last week.

"Youd have to have this goal in your sights. Its attainable. Its achievable," he stressed.

"It probably comes from the history of the club and the success in the ninetieswere confident people."

As their manager, Joe Murphy prophetically predicted at the start of this year when he contributed to the AIB video about ire gs last great triumph.

"This club is always chasing.that chase will always remain."

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'The feeling I had after that game was heartbreaking' - The anatomy of a Leinster final shock -

Recommendation and review posted by G. Smith

Wisconsin football: Is there hope for a Badgers win over Ohio State? – Bucky’s 5th Quarter

Posted: December 6, 2019 at 10:46 pm

Well, your B1G West champion No. 8 Wisconsin Badgers (10-2 overall, 7-2 B1G) take on the No. 1 Ohio State Buckeyes (12-0 overall, 9-0 B1G) tomorrow in the B1G championship game.

The Badgers are pretty serious underdogs here, as the Buckeyes are about 16.5 point favorites. If Wisconsin pulls off the upset, this could very well be the biggest victory in program history.

Lets take a look at some of the common aspects of big upsets and how the Badgers may or may not be up to the task.

Before we get into the details, lets talk about how people are feeling heading into this one. Before the first Ohio State game and earlier this week, I posted a twitter poll, which of course is known for scientific accuracy.

Anyways, the tool was consistent from six weeks ago to now, so it is interesting to compare the poll results. We asked the same question both times with the same options: How are #Badgers fans feeling about Saturdays football game against OSU? Optimism - Apathy - Dread - Other. And, here are the results.

A quick Chi-Squared test confirms (p-value = .001) that this data suggests fan sentiment has shifted in the last month and a half. However, this shift has been rather small. Folks seem to be slightly more apathetic, less optimistic and are not dreading this game quite as much, but the ordinal ranking of the responses remain the same.

You can run through the twitter replies yourself, but here are a few highlights from our followers written responses to the poll:

Wisconsin is in a really strange spot. It has definitely earned a spot in the top 10, but absolutely nobody outside of Wisconsin is giving the Badgers a chance. The gap between Wisconsin and Ohio State is not as big as the gap between Virginia and Clemson, but both games appear impossible on paper.

Alright, so if Wisconsin is going to pull this thing off, what is it going to need to do? Well, Im done with grad school now, so why not start off with a literature review because I have not been punished enough.

I dont know why I thought the anatomy of an upset was clever, but when I googled it, I found hundreds of articles.

Im unique, just like everyone else.

After wading through a ton of nonsense, I found four resources that did a nice job talking about what has to go right for an underdog to win.

College Football Nerds bring this up all the time on their channel (although they are not alone in these resources). They point out a common mistake coaches make: trying to keep the game close.

Warning: paragraph about chess incoming.

This is the exact same thing in chess. The clearer the game is, the stronger player knows how to play you. Weaker chess players often try to play conservatively to avoid big mistakes, but instead the stronger player makes small improvements over forty moves and ends up with an insurmountable advantage. The one time I beat a Grandmaster, it was because I played an aggressive opening and keep the game dynamic. My position was worse, but I gave the GM opportunities to make mistakes.

We are done talking about chess now.

This is the key here: you have to give the other team opportunities to make mistakes. If you curl up into a ball, you may keep the game artificially close, but you will never have a chance to actually score more points. If you play ultra-aggressive, youll tend to lose by more points, but one out of ten times the stars will align and you will find an edge.

College Football Nerds assessed the October 26 meeting between Wisconsin and Ohio State as an overly-passive strategy, saying that Wisconsin relied on Jonathan Taylor too much and died a death by a thousand cuts. They also noticed that Taylor ran the ball more than Coan threw it against Ohio State. Further, they contrasted that with the Minnesota game when Coan threw the ball more than Taylor ran it.

My colleague Tyler Hunt thinks that Wisconsin will indeed be more aggressive this time around:

In this game, I expect the Badgers to continue with the aggressive to give themselves a shot. Punts and field goals arent going to win this game, so when the opportunity calls, take your shots.

I want to believe this, I really do. However, I perceive that Paul Chryst gets most aggressive against teams like Michigan and Minnesota that are closer in ability to Wisconsin, and he becomes more passive against teams like Illinois, Northwestern and Ohio State. Basically, I perceive Chryst coaching more aggressively against teams within one standard deviation of the Badgers and less aggressive against teams further away from Wisconsin in ability for better or worse.

Further, Chryst might decide that Wisconsins best realistic outcome is a Rose Bowl. In this case, he might try to just shorten the game and keep it close. Hunt noted this as well:

Sure Wisconsin can try to keep it close to back into a Rose Bowl, or they can be aggressive and let the chips fall where they may. I fully expect the Badgers to do the latter, and I cannot wait to see it. Shock the world boys.

Im not as optimistic that Wisconsin will go all-out, but I sure hope Tyler is right. We will know early on what kind of game this is.

I am not the expert in this, or else I would be making hundreds of thousands a year as an offensive coordinator. However, I will try ton take a stab at this.

I think the key mismatch is finding ways to get Taylor the ball out in space, preferably with one-on-one coverage by a linebacker. Its clear that Wisconsin has struggled to get Taylor into these situations out of conventional run plays, so Chryst will need to use Taylor in some new packages.

Lets go off the wall here. How about Wisconsin running spread looks out of the 22 personnel with Taylor lined out wide and maybe Mason Stokke, Nakia Watson or Garret Groshek in the backfield? Or, how about 11 personnel that lines up five wide?

Feel free to comment how these are stupid ideas, but I think its this type of thinking that could produce a successful game if it is filtered through a smarter schematic mind than mine.

In Football Study Halls series on anatomy of an upset, Bill Connelly looked at two big upsets form 2007: Appalachian States victory over Michigan and UL-Monroes victory over Alabama. Additionally, Ian Boyd added a piece to the series on Houstons 2016 upset win over Oklahoma.

The key thing to learn about these posts is each game went quite differently. For some turnovers were key, for some it wasnt. For some total yardage was important, for some it wasnt. And so on, and so on.

However, each of these upsets featured consistent success by the underdog in obvious passing situations.

Thats it. Success on obvious passing situations is important.

Moving on.

Ohio State is going to out-gain Wisconsin. If Wisconsin gains 150 yards in a quarter, you want that 150 yards to be mostly spread between few significant plays instead of being sprinkled over five 30-yard drives that end in punts or field goals.

Further, turnovers can neutralize Ohio States offensive production. A fifty yard drive becomes a thought experiment when it ends in a fumble.

You probably knew this, but turnovers and explosive plays are important.

Again, Ohio State is going to out-gain Wisconsin. When Ohio State makes it into the red zone, Wisconsin has to force several field goals.

Ohio State averages 4.8 red zone scoring attempts each game. Ohio State is the second best team in the country in terms of red zone touchdown percentage at 86%. That means, on average Ohio State scores 30.91 red zone points per game.

This is an easy stat to turn aroundit only takes a handful of successful defensive plays to change Ohio States effective red zone touchdown percentage.

First, Wisconsin needs to not allow any scores without Ohio State coming through the red zone. Next, it needs to cut Ohio States red zone touchdown percentage from 86% to about 25%. While the percentage drop is significant, that is only three more red zone stops over the course of a game. That is difficult yet achievable.

Assume Ohio State makes it into the red zone five times against Wisconsin. If Ohio State follows its season average for red zone production, that would turn into 31 Buckeye points. However, if Wisconsin can make four red zone stops instead of only one, that drops Ohio State down to 19 red zone points.

Three extra red zone stops would decrease Ohio States scoring by 12 points, which is almost 75% of the spread.

Each of these findings are about increasing variance: upwards for Wisconsin (taking more chances, success on passing downs and turnovers) and downwards for Ohio State (field goals instead of turnovers and strange mismatches).

Its a million-to-one shot, but its a chance Wisconsin gets to take.

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Wisconsin football: Is there hope for a Badgers win over Ohio State? - Bucky's 5th Quarter

Recommendation and review posted by G. Smith

Anatomy of the perfect Manchester United skipper | Sport – The Times

Posted: December 6, 2019 at 10:46 pm


ROY KEANE The drive HeadKeane got the fans off their seats with his tackles, could lift his side with a stare and, at his best, there was an immense simplicity to his play it was ABC football, yet of the absolutely highest standard.

CRISTIANO RONALDOThe Adonis TorsoNot a natural pick as captain because of his individuality, but think about the way he led Portugal from the touchline during the European final in 2016. That was phenomenal. And then there is the obvious stuff: the white teeth, the Im-an-Adonis-follow-me inspiration, the crucial goals. He has turned so many games in his career. Thats as crucial as a roaring team-talk.

BRYAN ROBSONThe all-rounder ThighsHe may not have lasted long in the VAR era because

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Anatomy of the perfect Manchester United skipper | Sport - The Times

Recommendation and review posted by G. Smith

Anatomy of a Play: Josh Jacobs 35-yard scamper – Silver And Black Pride

Posted: December 6, 2019 at 10:46 pm

Josh Jacobs was one of the few bright spots this past weekend for the Raiders. Sprinkled throughout their epic drubbing at the hands of division rivals Kansas City Chiefs, the Raiders got some quality plays from the rookie RB.

The biggest run of the night was a 35-yard sprint around the offensive left side that gave the Raiders a chance to score at the end of the half. But how did the Raiders manage to get such a wide open running lane for Jacobs?

Lets go back to the very first play from scrimmage from the Raiders offense. They lined up in 11 personnel (1 Back, 1 TE) and ran a play-action boot targeting Darren Waller in the flat. Waller is lined up off the line of scrimmage next to the LT and comes across the formation.

The next player to look at is Chiefs Safety Daniel Sorensen. Sorenson comes on a blitz and is able to disrupt this play by getting in Carrs face.

Fast forward to Jacobs 35-yard run at the end of the half. A few things are the same:

Sorensen thinks he recognizes the play and abandons his gap in the run game in hopes that he can make a big play on what appears to be a bootleg. Only this time the Raiders are actually running the ball and the void Sorensen leaves allows Jacobs to accelerate into the second level.

Of course, there werent enough examples of plays like this coming to fruition for the Raiders. Its telling that a non-scoring play was their best play of the game. The last several weeks the offense has taken a step back. Theyll need to create more explosive offense if they have a chance of righting the ship this week against the Titans.

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Anatomy of a Play: Josh Jacobs 35-yard scamper - Silver And Black Pride

Recommendation and review posted by G. Smith

How a Greys Anatomy Episode Led to an Increase in Sexual Assault Awareness – Glamour

Posted: December 6, 2019 at 10:46 pm

We may be living in the age of too much content (because really, who can get to it all?!), but a new study shows that one single episode of popular television can still make a big impact on the world. Grey's Anatomy has been in our lives since it premiered on ABC in 2005, and over the past 15 seasons, fans have seen many powerful and emotional episodes. But one, in particular, from last March is proving to have a lasting effect on awareness around sexual assault.

"Silent All These Years" first aired on March 28, 2019, and featured a storyline with a patient named Abby, who Dr. Jo Karev and Dr. Teddy Altman learn has been sexually assaulted. At the time I wrote about how sensitively the show handled the issue of consent on many levels, but particularly how the doctors treated Abby as they examined her. The episode culminated in an emotional moment in which female doctors, nurses, and other hospital staff line the hallway as Abby was taken into surgery because every male face she sees reminds her of her attacker.

At the end of the show, Ellen Pompeo did a PSA about reaching out for help if they had been affected by sexual violence, and gave information about contacting the National Sexual Assault Hotline operated by the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network, or RAINN (800-856-HOPE or via online chat And now a new study is showing the real-life impact of the show.

Researchers at the Oklahoma State University Center for Health Sciences studied search trends on Google and Twitter for two weeks before and one week after the episode aired. They monitored terms like Rape, Abuse, and Incest National Network," RAINN, sexual assault, rape, sexual assault hotline, and tweets mentioning @RAINN. They also collected data from RAINN on call volumes in the 48 hours after the episode aired.

Engagements with the @RAINN Twitter account and tweets mentioning sexual assault hotline increased by 1,097% the day after the episode, researcher Trevor Torgerson told Reuters Health. They also found the National Sexual Assault Hotline call volume increased by 43% in the 48 hours after the episode, and the volume of searches for the term RAINN was 41% larger than expected, and search volumes for rape and sexual assault were 8% and 9% higher, respectively. In addition, the number of tweets mentioning sexual assault hotline and RAINN were 1,995% and 292% higher than usual.

An adored actor, such as Ellen Pompeo, may be able to convince someone to seek help in a way that only flashing the hotline number may not be able to," Torgerson said. "That being said, if flashing the hotline number is all that can be done, we would agree there is a benefit to it.

Whatever the factors, it's incredible to see the impact that one episode of television (in this case, Grey's Anatomy) can have on the world.

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How a Greys Anatomy Episode Led to an Increase in Sexual Assault Awareness - Glamour

Recommendation and review posted by G. Smith

Commentary: Dangerous interregnum: The anatomy of Ethiopias mismanaged transition –

Posted: December 6, 2019 at 10:46 pm

Ezekiel Gebissa, for Addis Standard

Addis Abeba, December 05/2019 In his Selections from Prison Notebooks, Antonio Gramsci famously wrote in 1930: The crisis consists precisely in the fact that the old is dying and the new cannot be born; in this interregnum a great variety of morbid symptoms appear.1He was writing about the late 1920s, an era epitomized since by economic recession, the rise of fascism and an imminent world war. In his concept of interregnum, the old order had lost authority, and its successor had yet to re-engender a properly functioning society. During such an interregnum, society could experience myriad problems, even chaos, and, in some cases, political violence.

In December 2017, the Ethiopian Peoples Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF), impelled by a persistent popular uprising in the Oromia region, embarked on a program it described as deep renewal. This ushered in a process exemplifying Gramscis interregnum. The EPRDF-designed political system, anchored by institutionalization of a dominant party in exchange for rapid economic growth, is dying. A new system remains unborn or even unimagined. Previously banned political forces remain inactive or unable to offer alternative models. Morbid symptoms have begun to appear.

What diagnosis do these symptoms suggest? Interregnums are dangerous particularly if accompanied by unwillingness to imagine new power structures. In Ethiopias case, leaders of the reformed EPRDF have proven unable to manage the difficult process of democratization. Political authority has fragmented; a general feeling of national drift has raised the specter of state collapse. That would be the greatest geopolitical catastrophe in the Horn of Africa.

There was indeed an unmistakable reformist shift, and relaxation of political tension; the specter of state collapse faded.


EPRDFs embrace of deep renewal promised a new political dispensation. In Ethiopia, power-holders would henceforth be accountable to citizens through regular free elections, protecting rather than violating human rights; state institutions would provide good governance rather than function as an arm of the dominant political party. There was indeed an unmistakable reformist shift, and relaxation of political tension; the specter of state collapse faded.

In March 2018, the ruling EPRDF designated a new prime minister, Abiy Ahmed; he was sworn in in April. He implemented reforms with speed and gusto, gaining a receptive audience among Ethiopians. He visited nearly all regions, and diaspora communities abroad, preaching love, forgiveness and national reconciliation. He won over Western leaders with fashionable reform measures (e.g. appointing women) and occasionally expressing endorsement of liberal economic tenets. There was a deep reservoir of public support for the expressed commitment to reform and effort to ensure a transition to democracy.

Twenty months later, those glimpses of liberalization and democratic transition have proven a mirage. Symptoms of dysfunction are multiplying. The ruling party of the last three decades has lost its cohesion. Centrifugal forces and jockeying for power have soured relations within the EPDRF coalition, as each member resorts to a separate identity. As a party, the EPRDF is suffering an identity crisis, unsure of the political ideology that once gave it the coherence to govern effectively.

Because the party is essentially moribund, governance has collapsed. The prime minister holds on to power by deploying the military and the politicized state machinery. The regional states are in disarray, each with distinct challenges. Tigray is isolated, Oromia largely ungoverned and experiencing violence, the Southern Nations, Nationalities and Peoples Region (SNNPR) is unsure of its future, and the Amhara Region is the scene (and source) of political violence.

Contrary to the official portrayal of robust growth, the economy is in trouble. Increasing unemployment, runaway inflation, a foreign currency crunch, mounting debt, and credit difficulties characterize the current economic landscape

Contrary to the official portrayal of robust growth, the economy is in trouble. Increasing unemployment, runaway inflation, a foreign currency crunch, mounting debt, and credit difficulties characterize the current economic landscape. The newly unveiled Homegrown Economic Reform, sporting the language of the discredited Washington Consensus, has not addressed existing economic challenges. Will it ever work? Its only purpose seems to be to repudiate the developmental-state model of the prime ministers predecessors.

The worst features of EPRDF rule, which precipitated mass uprisings in recent years, have now returned with a vengeance. Mass arrests, lengthy detention without charge and other infringement of citizens rights, including illegal searches, restrictions on assembly, expression and movement, are commonplace. Security forces use threats, online filtering and other forms of harassment to intimidate opponents. Political party leaders and their supporters are subjected to illegal detention, with allegations of physical beating, and torture. In its 2019 annual report, Freedom House ranked Ethiopia as not free, with an abysmal record on political and civil liberties. Ethiopia today looks less like an example of successful political transition than of how democratization fails.

Inherent Dangers

Transitionrequires skillful management. Liberalization, the opening up of anauthoritarian order, if not managed competently, can quickly foment insecurity,sacrificing the very legitimacy a new regime needs most. In Ethiopias case,fateful mistakes were made at the outset.Inherent dangers were ignored.

Rejection of a Roadmap

There were several reasons for thefailure of democratic transition. One was lack of a clear agenda for the post-authoritarianperiod. The history of successful democratization attests that broad agreement among elites on transitionalguidelines and on procedures for popular participation is essential. Without a program that bridges the receding and emergingpolitical orders, there is little chance of successful transition fromauthoritarian rule to democratic governance.

At thebeginning of the Ethiopian transition, the prime minister was implored toconvene the major political parties to design a roadmap for the complicatedprocess of change. His initial response?I will be thebridge that ensures a successful transition. When the calls increased,he dismissed them: theterm roadmap has no meaning in political economy. In the absence of guidelines, every political actor acted to maximizetheir political fortune. Supporters clashed, with fatalities and destruction ofproperty. Cases in point are the incidents of September 2017, following thereturn to the capital of the Patriotic Genbot 7 and the Oromo Liberation Front(OLF).

Despite these warning signs, the prime minister showed no inclination to offer a program of transition, though he always talked about peace, forgiveness and love as a way forward. These notions have now coalesced into meddemer (addition), offered as the ideology of reform and transition. Such as it was, it came too late. The transition had drifted rudderless, producing more conflicts. Neither personal bridge nor infantile philosophy could substitute for a roadmap for transition.

Return of the Old Guard

Another danger the EPDRF leadership ignoredhas been the old guards determination to return to power. Democratizationis naturally redistributive of political and economic power; it threatens elitepower and dominance. In 2014-18,when a revolutionary protest movement of the disenfranchised threatened EPDRFsmonopoly of power, the political elite joined the movement for change ratherthan continue to confront it. However, they remained focused on regaining theirgrip on power.

The new leadership assumed responsibilityfor leading the transition but did little to guard it against counter-revolution.With decision-making concentrated in the prime ministers office, the old elitein the capital easily returned to dominance, filling key positions with politicalloyalists and party apparatchiksadmittedly opposed to democratization. Thebusiness elite bought a place at the table, and donated millions to the primeministers favorite projects in exchange for kickbacks in government contracts.The business and political elites have indeed successfully mounted an internalcoup detat, hijacking the revolution and dislodging genuine agents of change.2

Strategic mistakes

Popular protests toppling authoritariansystems do not always succeed in establishing democratic systems. To succeed,the first order of business is assembling forces of change in support of transition.In Ethiopias case, either political miscalculation or failure to heed itsimportance was a strategic mistake, resulting in lack of support from theforces that brought about the transition.

In a speech at Bahir Dar University in April 2018, the prime minister retorted: Amhara nationalism is growing at an alarming speed. Please study it. Oromo nationalism has taken [Ethiopias] largest population and diminished it. Instead of thinking at a national or continental level, it has reduced the Oromo to village level politics. This failed to endear him to Amhara nationalists, whose objective was to ride the wave of rising Amhara nationalism to regain their long lost power. On the other hand, the supercilious description of Oromo nationalism enraged Oromo nationalists. In effect, the prime minister alienated the Amhara nationalists he sought to restrain and antagonized the Oromo nationalists who had catapulted him into office. The forces of counter-revolution were ushered in to take the reins of power, thus jeopardizing the transition at the outset.

A second strategic mistake was the failure to recognize that the goal of transition was a state fulfilling longstanding demands for liberty, equality, justice and human dignity. For half a century, political struggle had focused against a centralized political system that excluded, marginalized and oppressed the majority of Ethiopians. But instead of envisioning a reconstructed state, EPRDFs reformist leaders thought in terms of restoring Ethiopias glorious past as a state. In political terms, the prime ministers vision of return was tantamount to repudiation of the sacrifices of the last five decades. Worse, glorification of the horrid Ethiopian state became an impediment to moving forward to a democratic state.

A third strategic mistake was the failure to recognize that the mandate is to serve as either a caretaker or a transitional government. Crucial to the caretaker function was rebuilding the state apparatus damaged during the protests. Whatever the reasons, the government proved unable to reconstitute the lower rungs of administration and failed even to gain control over the territory it was meant to govern. Public security, the most important responsibility of any government, broke down. Violence proliferated. For the first time in more than two decades, the regime itself looked vulnerable to implosion.

There are indications that the next national election, ostensibly the end of the transition process, was beset with problems even before the campaign could begin in earnest

As a transitional government, the regime hadto prepare for democratic elections. There are indications that the next national election,ostensibly the end of the transition process, was beset with problems even beforethe campaign could begin in earnest. The new electoral law was issued onlyeight months before the elections scheduled for May 2020. Complaints from theopposition include difficulties with party registration, opposition to elementsof the new electoral law itself, and questions about the impartiality of theelectoral commission. Electoral officers are not being recruited and trained.Polling logistics are not being organized. There are, in fact, no visiblepreparations for elections. A constitutional crisis is in the making.

Atthe federal level, the prime ministers centralizing decision making hasundermined institutional autonomy of government agencies and subvertedestablished processes. Federalentities are tasked with acting in the public interest, and while the executivehas an administrative supervising function, it has accumulated unchecked ad hocpowers. This has eroded the functional autonomy of government institutions anddegraded transparency and accountability. The failure to rebuild lower-level state institutions, and the primeministers personal decision-making style have paralyzed the delivery of publicservices, rendering the government utterly dysfunctional.


The model of democratic transition adopted inEthiopia was in any case flawed from the very beginning. The process of designingand implementing a transitional roadmap did not include all political actors. Iteschewed broad social and political consensus for a new political system beforeholding elections. Empowerment of old-regime elites in the transition process, exclusionof nationalist parties, neglect of the protest movements demands, andantagonistic political forces have now doomed the democratic transition.

For many months the Abiy administration has looked for a coherent agenda for rallying the country. Instead, it has resorted to public relations stunts, including an urban sanitation campaign, a beautification project in Addis Abeba, tree planting to set a world record, palace renovation, and employing psychologists to conduct a national catharsis to cleanse citizens minds of ethnocentrism. Culminating this dreary grab bag were the prime ministers book launch festivities. Together or alone, these do not constitute a sustainable national project.

Flouting recognized processes and norms and circumventing established state institutions, which the prime minister has made his standard mode of operation, rewarded incompetence and destabilized the government

An ad hoc approach to governing leads tomistakes and wastes time on damage control. Flouting recognized processes andnorms and circumventing established state institutions, which the prime ministerhas made his standard mode of operation, rewarded incompetence and destabilizedthe government. Left to proceed withouta program, the transition has now unraveled, further diminishing the countrys alreadyfragile governing institutions. The states demonstrable vulnerability has emboldenedanti-reform forces, spelling disaster for the prospect of a successfultransition.

EPRDFs constituent members and associated parties are dissolving themselves into a single multinational party organized around the meddemer ideology. The Oromo Democratic Party (ODP) and the Amhara Democratic Party (ADP) have rushed the merger through their party echelons even though there is no consensus for merger. Suffice it to mention the very public rejection of both the party merger and so-called new ideology by Lemma Megerssa, ODPs deputy chairman. The Tigray Peoples Liberation Front (TPLF) has rejected the merger for now, suggesting more pressing national issues to address. The merger frenzy has proceeded without the TPLF. This is tantamount to excluding the Tigray region, with grave consequences for the cohesion of the Ethiopian National Defense Forces. Clearly, the apparent merger is fraught with legal and constitutional problems, and is being rushed with no clear political purpose other than the party leaders singular interest in dismantling the EPRDF before the elections.

The country is thus in a dangerous interregnum. At a time when established political groups are in flux, new alliances and counter-alliances will make the political landscape more unstable. Given that the Ethiopian state is fast losing its monopoly on violence, with armed units roaming several states, what we have now is an emerging phantom state (a state without administration), teetering on the verge of collapse. If the state fails, others will step in to provide security for themselves. There is a clear danger that political maneuverings might descend into predatory states (administration without a state) in the regions. AS


EDs Note: Ezekiel Gebissa is a Professor of History and African Studies at Kettering University in Flint, Michigan. He can be reached at


1AntonioGramsci, Selections from the Prison Notebooks of Antonio Gramsci,ed. and trans. Quintin Hoare and Geoffrey Nowell-Smith (London: Lawrence &Wishart, 1971), 275-276.

2 For a detailed account of the players, methods, conflicts and hijacking of power and the process which sidelined nationalist party leaders and eventual triumph of the counter revolution, see, Mudhin Siraj, YeTetelfe Tigil [The Hijacked Revolution], Addis Abeba: Dinsho Printing Press, Hamle [July], 2019 Eth. C. The book is a true account according to insiders I was able to interview. It has not been refuted. In fact, it rattled Abiy Ahmed and his supporters to the extent that the book was subsequently bought back from the market at very high prices.

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Commentary: Dangerous interregnum: The anatomy of Ethiopias mismanaged transition -

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