How Political Parties Mobilize Religion

Lessons from Mexico and Turkey

Luis Felipe Mantilla
Book Cover

PB: $34.95
EAN: 978-1-4399-2016-9
Publication: Jun 21

HC: $110.50
EAN: 978-1-4399-2015-2
Publication: Jun 21

Ebook: $34.95
EAN: 978-1-4399-2017-6
Publication: Jun 21

274 pages
6 x 9
10 tables, 4 figures

Analyzes the evolution of Catholic and Sunni Muslim parties to study religious political mobilization in comparative perspective

Read the Introduction (pdf).


Political mobilization tends to take different forms in contemporary Catholic- and Sunni-majority countries. Luis Felipe Mantilla attributes this dynamic to changes taking place in religious communities and the political institutions that govern religious political engagement.

In How Political Parties Mobilize Religion, Mantilla evenhandedly traces the emergence and success of religious parties in Mexico and Turkey, two countries shaped by assertive secular regimes. In doing so, he demonstrates that religious parties are highly responsive to political institutions, such as electoral laws, as well as to the structure of broader religious communities.

Whereas in both countries, the electoral success of religious mobilizers was initially a boon for democracy, in Mexico it was marred by political mismanagement and became entangled with persistent corruption and escalating violence. In Turkey, the democratic credentials of religious mobilizers were profoundly eroded as the government became increasingly autocratic, concentrating power in very few hands and rolling back basic liberal rights.

Mantilla investigates the role religious mobilization plays in the evolution of electoral politics and democratic institutions, and to what extent their trajectories reflect broader trends in political Catholicism and Islam.


“In this insightful book, Luis Felipe Mantilla delves into religious mobilization by political parties in Mexico and Turkey. He distills this process to three dimensions: appeals to religious identity, ties to civil society religious associations, and the incorporation of religious doctrines into politics. He argues that the decision of whether to mobilize religion and which strategy to use is based on the structure of religious communities and institutions in a particular country. This elegant and powerful analysis is applicable beyond Mexico and Turkey and can be used to deepen our understanding of religious mobilization across the world.”
Jonathan Fox, the Yehuda Avner Professor of Religion and Politics at Bar Ilan University, Director of the Religion and State Project, and author of Thou Shalt Have No Other Gods before Me: Why Governments Discriminate against Religious Minorities

“In a period of global history where religion has resurged in its political influence, political scientists face the task of understanding the anatomy of this influence. Why do religious leaders and communities succeed in shaping politics in some societies but not in others? And what sort of shaping do they perform? Luis Felipe Mantilla offers one of the most adept analyses of this influence to date. Based on a broad cross-national analysis of Catholic- and Sunni-majority countries and a brilliant comparison between Turkey and Mexico, he shows how religion’s ability to influence politics is based not on theology, ideology, or the religiosity of the population but rather on how religious and political institutions are configured. How Political Parties Mobilize Religion is an outstanding comparative analysis that surely will be drawn upon, tested, and replicated by social scientists who will want to transport it to numerous other countries in which religion is immersed in the political fray.”
Daniel Philpott, Professor of Political Science at the University of Notre Dame, and author of Religious Freedom in Islam: The Fate of a Universal Human Right in the Muslim World

Table of Contents


1. Religious Parties in Comparative Perspective
2. Comparing Mexico and Turkey
3. The Emergence and Transformation of Religious Political Mobilization in Mexico
4. The Contentious Evolution of Religious Political Mobilization in Turkey
5. From Words to Deeds The Challenges of Incumbency
Conclusion Lessons from Mexico and Turkey

Appendix 1 Religious Political Parties by Country
Appendix 2 Coding Protocol for Religious Parties

About the Author(s)

Luis Felipe Mantilla is an Associate Professor in the School of Interdisciplinary Global Studies at the University of South Florida.


In the Series

  • Religious Engagement in Democratic Politics edited by Paul A. Djupe

    The Religious Engagement in Democratic Politics series, edited by Paul A. Djupe, will collect work that explores in theoretically and empirically rigorous ways variations in and determinants of religious presence in the politics of democratic nations—from those with a long history of institutionalized democracy to those struggling to establish free, contested elections and systems of rights and liberties. Books in the series will demonstrate application of one or more of a variety of quantitative and qualitative methodologies to explore the robust and highly variable presence of religion in democracies. Prospective authors should contact series editor Paul Djupe or Senior Editor Aaron Javsicas at Temple University Press to discuss their work in progress for inclusion in the series.