The Tigray People's Liberation Front (TPLF) has led Ethiopia for close to three decades as a core party within the Ethiopian People's Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF) coalition. Various ideological claims permeated the consolidation of power by the TPLF, which now seems to be questioned by the new leadership in the EPRDF. This article locates the critical junctures in the history of the party and analyses how those junctures relate to power concentration rather than to ideological shifts as purported by the party. It argues that the circumstances surrounding the 'shifts' in ideologies by the TPLF show that ideologies were used to consolidate power within the party and later impose domination at the state level. A thorough investigation of the ideological history of the TPLF is crucial as Ethiopia seems to be standing at a critical ideological crossroad. Through a deep hermeneutic interpretation, the article concludes that leftist ideological threads such as a focus on vanguard rule, party-directed economy, and Stalinist understandings of ethnicity run throughout the ideological shifts of the TPLF. The article synthesizes the cosmetic ideological shifts in the context of a pragmatic party that has been applying market socialism.
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© 2019 The Author(s) 2019. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of Royal African Society.