Abstract This article analyses the substance of the European Union’s and United

States’ democracy assistance in Ethiopia in 2005-2010. Does this case reveal a

transatlantic split, whereby the EU focuses on the external context and the US on the

partial regimes of embedded, liberal democracy? Emphasizing the importance of

institutions in analysing how interests and ideas affect democracy assistance, the article

investigates how the substance may differ between the European Development Fund

(EDF), European Instrument for Democracy and Human Rights (EIDHR), US Agency

for International Development (USAID) and the National Endowment for Democracy

(NED). The analysis finds a transatlantic split whereby the EU focused more on the

external context and the US more on the partial regimes. This transatlantic split can be

explained by the combination of ideas and institutions. More specifically, it reflects a

difference between the EDF and USAID in their focus on ownership, alignment and

harmonization in democracy assistance. The combination of interests and institutions

played a less significant role in explaining the substance of democracy assistance, as

USAID emphasized the partial regimes, despite political control from the State