Pluralism and moderation in an inclusive political realm: a normative defence of religious political parties
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In this thesis, I outline the normative relevance of religious political parties as carriers of values in the context of contemporary political theory. The central argument of my thesis is that religious political parties are, in ideal terms, vital institutional tools for channelling religious claims into the public political realm of liberal democratic polities, in a way that favours democracy. The reason for my claim is that there is a set of normative criteria that all political parties ought to comply with. These include loyal opposition (i.e. the endorsement of the constitutional and institutional framework in which parties operate), acknowledgement and respect of political pluralism and commitment to pursuing power only through legal means. These normative criteria are grounded in the idea that political parties are “bilingual”, i.e. they occupy a unique position between civil society and public political realm. By complying with these criteria political parties can contribute in channelling and moderating religious and other perfectionist claims in a way that renders them suitable for democratic politics. Furthermore I argue that religious political parties are best incorporated, in ideal terms, by a regime of nonconstitutional pluralism, where no religious faith is officially recognized in the constitution but the political guarantees exist for the expression of religious views in the public political realm through religious political parties. Finally, I examine two specific religious parties, the Justice and Development Party (Adalet ve Kalkinma Partisi - AKP) in Turkey and the former Christian Democratic Party (Democrazia Cristiana - DC) in Italy, in order to assess to which extent they have complied with the normative criteria of party politics and, therefore, contributed in enhancing democracy in their respective polities.