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Print Send Add Share. Notes General Note: The literature on the relationship between Islam and democracy explains the rarity of democratic occurrences in predominantly Muslim countries either through the destructive role of religion or the incompatibility of Islam and democracy. Arguing against this sweeping "Islamic democratic deficit" idea and taking a dynamic approach instead, this study looks at this diversity of democratic outcomes in Muslim-majority countries and asks what exactly leads to these differences.

In this process, it focuses on party system religiosity as the key explanatory factor. Instead of combining all religiously oriented political parties under the same category and making a blanket assessment of some negative impact of their participation in politics, it argues that there are different degrees of party religiosity, ranging from religious extremism to hostile secularism, and that each type has different effects on the democratic quality of their countries.

Through a statistical analysis of an original dataset on party system religiosity, it demonstrates that the parties with a more fundamentalist understanding of Islam usually have a negative impact on democratic quality, whereas parties that highlight inclusive and tolerant aspects of Islam contribute to the deepening of democracy in their respective countries.

It then adds analytical depth to the findings with more qualitative and thickly descriptive research conducted in Turkey and Tunisia. By tracing the processes of democratization in several Muslim majority countries and using a large number of data sources including information from field research, elite interviews, party statements and official documents , it constructs a causal story that showed how exactly these different types of religious parties interacted with the state, society and other parties, and how the constraints and political opportunity structures in which they worked affected their attitudes towards democracy, liberal values and plurality within their political systems.

Overall, the study challenges the common assumptions about Islamic parties, secularism and democracy in the Muslim world, and changes the focus of debates on these issues from essentialist and neo-Orientalist arguments to actual practices on the ground and the day-to-day politics in predominantly Muslim countries. To him I ow e my greatest intellectual debt During the past three years, he has been an ideal mentor and supervisor, combining and balancing intellectu al freedom and critical involvement in my research through his advice, wisdom and knowledge.

His efforts to teach me how to ask theoretically significant and politically relevant research questions and to show me how to do great social science research, despite his heavy workload, attest to his dedication to the discipline of political science and to his students. During this research, I also had the great pleasure and privilege of working with my dissertation committee o f Ken neth Wald, Ben jamin Smith, Leo nardo Villalon and Alin Ceobanu.

Ken Walds guidance and support for the project I had completed in his Religion and Politics class provided me with the inspiration to conduct this study.

Thanks to him, this project has m oved from a simple idea to a finished dissertation, and thanks to Ben Smith, Leo Villalon and Alin Ceobanu, this process became a very thoughtful and rewarding one.

I would like to express my great appreciation to them for reading this dissertation at vari ous stages of development sharing their knowledge and insights on the topic and cou ntries analyzed, and passing on their passion and energy to strive for more rigor It was their thought provoking questions, useful comments and thorough reviews which imp roved this study significantly. I am also grateful to Magda Guircanu for her valuable advice on statistical models I used throughout this research.

Furthermore, I am forever indebted to Amie Kreppel for her support and generosity, especially for opening th e doors of a new research area for me, providing PAGE 5 5 good advice on writing, and teaching me the ingenious solutio ns to data collection problems.

Many other professors I had the honor of meeting and working with at the University of Florida particularly Bryon Moraski, Sebastian Elischer, Zachary Selden, Badredine Arfi and Dan ONeill, also played an important role in developing my ideas and passion for the issues I will be working on from this point on Both their scholarly work and lectures enric hed my knowledge of world politics taught me many valuable skills and tools I will continue to use through my academic career and improv ed my scholarship in more ways than I can count here.

Likewise, m y heartfelt thanks go to our departments graduate secretary, Sue L awless Yanchisin, for helping me at every step and keeping my spirits up along the way. Additionally, there have been many friends and colleagues who helped me throughout two summers of fiel d research and data collection.

They kindly shared their country expertise with me, provided bibliographical sources and tutored me on the substantive events and issues and their aid has been greatly appreciated. My debt to a number of people I met in Tunisia many of whom eventually became dear friends, for their assistance, hospitality and knowledge of the political scene is too great to write in detail. Yet, Lina Benabdallahs generosity during my research trip deserves a special mention, as she did so much to forge contacts, gain access to the party offic es and help me find my way around a foreign country in general.

On that note, I wish to extend my thanks to all political party elites in Turkey and Tunisia, who donated their time to grant interviews and graciously and patiently answered all my questions While o nly some of their comments made it onto this dissertation, it was their responses and our conversations that informed the case PAGE 6 6 studies and the lessons drawn from them.

In addition, I would like to acknowledge the profound influence of those scholars who paved the way for the study of religious parties in different contexts on the questions I asked and the way I thought about the role of political Islam, as well as the inner dynamics of political parties, to come up with plausible explanati ons.

For their diligence and scholarship I am deeply grateful. This entire intellectual journey turned out to be very fulfilling productive and enjoyable, so I would like to thank my friends and fellow graduate students at the University of Florida for their understanding, empathy, feedback and warm collegiality As we went through some of the most challenging parts of our lives together, Nail Tanrioven, Asli Bay sal, Lia Merivaki, Tolga Kobas, and Enrijeta Shino became like a family to me and always made sure that their love is felt.

Despite their tight schedules, Aycan Hacioglu, Dragana Svraka, Hye Ryeon Jang, Armand Kapplani, Greg Mason, and Ryan Whittingham devoted their time to discuss my work, reassured me that I had the strength and courage to persevere even when I felt lost, so I owe them all thanks for everything they have done for me. Outside the world of political science, Yasemin Egilmez and Sarah Spaid provided a constant source of inspiration, affection strength and entertainment even when w e were separated by thousands of miles.

Alican Gulsevin, who was there for me at the every step of the way, also deserves a big thank you for putting up with me and making m y last two years in Gainesville very pleasant and memorable. Finally, my deepest gratitude goes to my parents for their endless love, support care and enthusiasm Without their encouragement to persistently read books, ask questions seek answers and challenge ideas I would not have been here. Arguing against this sweeping "Islamic democratic deficit" idea and taking a dynamic approach instead, this study looks at this diversity of democratic outcomes in Muslim majority countries and asks what exac tly leads to these differences.

In this process, it focuses on p arty system religiosity as the key explanatory factor. Through a statistical analysis of an original dataset on party system religiosity, it demonstrates that the parties with a more fundamentalist understanding of Islam usually have a negative impact on democratic quality, whereas parties that highlight inclusive and tolerant aspects of Islam contribute to the deepening of dem ocracy in their respective countries.

I t then add s analytical depth to the findings with more qualitative and thickly PAGE 17 17 descriptive research conducted in Turkey and Tunisia. Homer The Odyssey 1. Throughout these debates, Islam has been imagined [both] as inferior to Jewish and Christian traditions , unchanging, and militant by the West; and superior, dynami c and peace loving by Muslims Arkoun, p. To deal with this inconsistency, this research follows Steven Fishs strategy and takes 55 percent Muslim population as the threshold for Muslim predominance, yielding 44 Muslim majority countries as a result.

This research uses a mainstream definition, suggested by Juan Linz, that refers to legal freedom to formulate and advocate political alternatives with the concomitant rights to free association, free speech, and other basic freedoms of the person; free and nonviolent competition among leaders with periodic validation of their claim to rule; inclusion of all effective political offices in the democratic process; and provision for the participation of all members of the political community, whatever their political preferences Linz, , p.

PAGE 19 19 Even though the post Cold War era brought some degree of political openness, and the new wave of democratization seemed to affect some Muslim major ity countries, the brief period of optimism and hopes of democracy in the Muslim world did not last long.

As new regimes opened the political arena to a large number of competitors, and religious groups started to seek power through free and fair elections these hopes gave way to the fears about Islamist takeovers of democratic politics, leading many to believe that democracy would be a one man, one vote, one time experience in Muslim countries Djereijan, Confusion about who Islamic parties represented, what they really stood for and the means through which they tried to achieve their goals, the prominent members of the international community usually condemned them for harboring radical tendencies and engaging in violent acts in the name of Islam.

They also claimed that religious groups presence in political life constituted a social and political powder keg in many parts of the world, which must be countered by any means necessary. In return, supporters of such parties accused the West of not respecting their national will and democratic institutions, and argued that Islamic doctrines and the piety of politicians would solve the long standing problems of their countries and save them from the yoke of secular minded authoritarian regimes.

Secularists in Muslim majority countries, on the other hand, sided with the Western powers and emphasized the necessity of separating religion and politics for a well functioning democracy. At the same time, they encouraged everyone to question the democratic commitments of Islamists, who had been denouncing democracy just a few y ears ago. Not surprisingly, all these viewpoints created intense debates on the place of Islam in modern politics, the compatibility of religion and democracy, and the impact of religious party PAGE 20 20 participation in political processes, not just among scholars but among the laypeople as well.

For observers that expected the significance of religion to decline as Muslim majority countries modernized, the enormous popularity of parties that represented religious interests presented a puzzle. Why did a primordial identity religion not disappear from public scene altogether with modernization, but made a comeback in the form of faith based parties, which then proved themselves exceptionally successful in elections?

What did the Islamists offer the citizens secular parties could not? Why could secular parties not ensure further democratization in their countries, and how did religious actors become champions of political openings in the end?

After all, just a few decades ago, the idea of an Islamic political party sounded like an oxymoron, simply because most religious authorities denounced all Western political institutions, including parties, as degenerate and anti Islamic. Religious groups enthusiastic participation in the elections, let alone statements about advancing democracy, was similarly unthinkable in many countries; but then, barring a small minority who argued that sovereignty hakimiyyah rested solely with God, most came to accept and respect democratic ideals.

What prompted these changes, and how should we, as scholars of democratization conducting research on Muslim majority countries, account for these changes? Islamists decision to take a part in politics is rather curious for these reasons, but there is an even more important question to be aske d: What does this Islamic party identity stand for?

Can we talk about a single and unified Islamic party ideology in this regard, or do different Islamic parties have different goals and different means to PAGE 21 21 achieve them? If they are different, what distinguishes one Islamic party from others? What happens once they participate in politics? Does the spread of political Islam necessarily bring an end to the hopes for democracy in these countries? Do they really have a hidden agenda, as their opponents suspect, aiming to undermine the democratic institutions from within and replace them with Shariabased ones?

Or, having suffered a great deal under authoritarian regimes, are they now genuinely interested in democ ratic reforms? Once they come to power, does it matter whether or not they were only strategically committed to the idea of democracy? What role do they play in their countries political scenes?

Do they promote a civic culture among citizens and use rel igious texts to encourage pluralism, tolerance and social justice; or do they increase tensions between believers and nonbelievers and use religious dogmas and institutions to justify their authoritarian rule?

What is their understanding of democracy, and are they able to translate their democratic rhetoric into meaningful action? Is secularization or, privatization of religion the only way to achieve higher democ rat ic quality in the Muslim world? Understanding the Role of Islam in Politics Through its focus on the religiosity in party systems, this dissertation project seeks answers to these questions.

As both the religious and secular groups use the 3 This aspect raises important questions about the concept of democracy as well. If we accept a majoritarian definition of democracy, for instance, political systems where religious parties are dominant can be nothing but democracies in the truest form, since democracy means translating grassroots demands into political outcomes and the large majorities in predominantly Muslim countries want religion to play a bigger role in political affairs.

I f we accept that democratic regimes by nature include liberal characteristics, however, these systems cannot be considered democratic unless the parties adopt certain liberal principles and respect the rights and liberties of the groups that do not share t heir religious ideology.

Case studies will discuss these aspects in some detail, and the conclusion chapter will expand this discussion further. PAGE 22 22 rhetoric of democracy in seeking representation and support for their political goals, it takes the literature on regime transitions and democratic deepening as the main framework for this study.

Despite a great deal of research done on Islam and democracy, however, political scientists have yet to reach a conclusion on the issue of compatibility of these two. The recent rise of the Islamic state and increasing Islamophobia in the West lead some scholars to argue that religion, in whatever form, is detrimental to dem ocratic processes.

Inspired by secularization theories Beckford, ; Rawls, ; Rorty, these scholars criticize religious groups tendency to turn some issues into taboos, create an intolerant environment and prevent public debate on these topics. Others do not see a problem with religion per se, but attribute the lack of consolidated democracies in the Muslim world to Islam particularly to its fusion of religious and political authority, which violates the li beral democratic doctrine of separating the church and the state Lewis, ; Sadowski, Going against this tide, however, some believers and practitioners argue that Islam has intrinsic characteristics such as ijma, ijtihad and shura conducive to democracy and claim that religion by itself does not stand in the way of further democratization in the Muslim world.

No matter what side one takes, however, the debates remain theoretical, lacking a basis in solid evidence and empirical analysis. Conclus ions are drawn from anecdotes or single case studies, and priority is given to theological explanations, freezing disagreement on the prospect for democratization in the Muslim world. They defend the idea that Islam should not be held responsible for the authoritarian resilience in the Islamic wor ld, as the religious texts can be used to bolster the legitimacy of any political system, from imperialism to social democracy Barkey, ; Ayoob, ; Driessen Rather, it is the external e.

As multivocal entities, religions have a number of ways to interpret different contemporary concepts, and there is no true Islam, or a religious authority, which can give democracy a seal of approval or condemn it once and for all.

For this reason, the question of whether Islam is compatible or incompatible with democracy is a misleading to a large extent Villaln, which means the discussion on these issu es needs to be shifted from polemics against and apologetics for Islam to a systematic search for regularities within the complexity of religion and nuanced understanding of religiosity in political contexts.

The investigation of more cases also necessitates the recognition of the diversity of regi me outcomes in the Muslim majority countries. Acknowledging this diversity deexceptionalizes the democratic experiences of some countries, and demonstrates that countries that share Islam as their belief system can differ vastly in their democratic qualit ies. Explaining the Diversity of Democratic Outcomes in Muslim Majority Countries The main purpose of this research project is to explain the reasons for this diversity in regime outcomes without engaging in essentialist or monolithic explanations about the relationship between Islam and democracy.

Because parties act as the central institution through which mass representative democracies now work and resource wealth, tribal alliances, authoritarian family structure and gender inequality factors that led to lower quality of democracies in Muslim majority countries. PAGE 24 24 because their structure, positions and preferences should be viewed as among the most, if not the most, significant part of the road to democratic consolidation Hofferbert, , p.

Then, it moves on to examine the conditions under which these roles turn out to be hindrances or contributions to democracy in their countries. In this sense, by looking at the actual practices and political opportunity structures these groups face, this research exami nes whether political parties, especially the religiously oriented ones, create additional challenges for the already difficult democratization processes, or instead support their countries democratization efforts with their acts and statements.

With this goal, this project presents a comparative analysis of religiosity in Muslim majority countries party systems, without disregarding the historical and country specific factors that led to differences in these level s. Even though this is not the first stud y that examines party religiosity from this perspective, it differs from the existing research on several ways. First of all, the previous research on the issue usually conflates Islam as religion and Islamism as political ideology, or focuses primarily on the extremist forms of political Islam.

Ignoring the multivocality in religion 5 Note that militant Islamism is beyond the scope of this paper. Whereas radical Islam favors the overthrow of the existent regime to restore Caliphate or establish a new Shariabased state, militant Islam distinguishes itself through its excessive use of violence to achieve even simpler goals.

Furthermore, unlike radical Islamists, whose aims to impose Sharia are usually limited to the confines of their own countries, militant Islamists have a larger vision that encompasses the whole ummah Islamic community. PAGE 25 25 and dynamic understanding of governance, it assumes that all Islamists act with some ideological rigidity and will not rest until theocracy is installed.

This study, on the oth er hand, accepts that religious extremists, despite the overemphasis on them in the media and scholarly works, constitute a minor group among religiously motivated political actors. The key political actors consist of more mainstream Islamic parties which respond to the existing constraints and political opportunity structures in very different ways. As a shared religion does not dictate a political roadmap to all religious groups involved, it is not very unusual for Islamic parties to disagree on everythi ng except for a core set of ambiguously defined ideals.



Print Send Add Share. Notes General Note: The literature on the relationship between Islam and democracy explains the rarity of democratic occurrences in predominantly Muslim countries either through the destructive role of religion or the incompatibility of Islam and democracy. Arguing against this sweeping "Islamic democratic deficit" idea and taking a dynamic approach instead, this study looks at this diversity of democratic outcomes in Muslim-majority countries and asks what exactly leads to these differences. In this process, it focuses on party system religiosity as the key explanatory factor.


Party System Religiosity and the Quality of Democracy in Predominantly Muslim Countries

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French sociologist Emile Durkheim coined the terms mechanical and organic solidarity to describe types of social organization, that is, ways in. In a society exhibiting mechanical solidarity, its cohesion and integration comes from the homogeneity of individuals. Durkheim formally established the dukheim discipline and, with Karl Marx and Max Weber, is commonly cited as the principal architect of modern social science and father of sociology. It is most often applied to systems of mass production and is one of the basic organizing principles of the assembly line. Mechanical solidarity is a simple, pre-industrial form of social cohesion, and organic solidarity is a more complex form of cohesion that evolves in modern societies by which he means the western capitalist democracies.

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