This study analyses the dynamics of mass protests in Ethiopia between 2015 and 2018 through the lenses of the political opportunity structure theory. It focuses on youth movements – Qeerroo in Oromia and Fano in Amhara – which despite their distinct trajectories and geographic origins came together at a key juncture to support both common (e.g. democracy, human rights) and competing aims (fuelled by ethnic grievances). Building on qualitative material collected during field work (semi-structured interviews, newspapers, and reports), this chapter shows how protesters took advantage of three opportunities arising in the political context, to engage in effective collective action: the leadership vacuum and intra-party fighting that followed the death of Meles Zenawi, the alliance between Qeerroo and Fano groups, and the access to internet and digital activism. However, the brutal state repression, ultimately explains the (limited) outcome of the protests. Indeed, while the protests started by triggering a transformation in politics, the initial reformist momentum eventually derailed as a new spiral of violence escalated, and past authoritarian practices gained ground. This study contributes to wider debates on the emergence and impact of protest in post-conflict authoritarian settings.