ABSTRACT

Can democratic inclusion change religious parties despite their deep commitments to their religious doctrines? Is electoral competition a cure for the radicalism of religious parties, or do countries risk arresting their democratic processes by including religious parties into their electoral systems? In other words, does electoral competition temper the radicalism of religious parties, or induce them to adopt more extremist positions? Does the inclusion of religious parties in the electoral process strengthen or deplete democratic capital in general and that of the Middle East in particular, and how? As religious parties establish themselves as pivotal actors in a wide variety of countries from India to Japan, these questions have become critical to our understanding of party politics. Despite the increasing number of studies, two prevailing models have emerged to explain how religious SDUWLHV DIIHFW WKHLU UHVSHFWLYH GHPRFUDFLHV 7KH ¿UVW UHOLJLRXV GRFWULQHFHQWHUHG framework rests on the presumption that religious parties’ main loyalties are to their religious doctrine. Analyses in this genre ask whether the ideas and institutions endorsed in a given religious doctrine are compatible with democratic practices (for example, Tibi 1996, Kramer 1996) and suggest that religious parties’ ideologies are often tenacious and not amenable to democratic changes. Such studies often contend that religious parties are likely to maintain their uncompromising positions informed by their respective religious doctrines, even when they accept the main rules of democracy. Allowing religious parties to participate in the electoral system, therefore, amounts to tolerating undemocratic parties for the sake of democracy and thereby endangers the very future of democracy.