Ironically, the correct comparison is to the Republican Party in the United States. This is a political party that draws much of its support from the political mobilization of Christian sentiment. ~Matt Yglesias

Yglesias is responding to a Michael Rubin item here, which was an update on his original post about anti-AK rallies.  The comparisons with Christian Democrats and Republicans alike are pretty sorry, and I’ll tell you why.  AK is an allegedly ”reformed” Islamist party, which means that it has changed absolutely nothing about itself except for its packaging and rhetoric.  Christian Democratic parties are typically very secular outfits in practice, even if most of their voters are still nominal or active churchgoers.  The Republicans are even more secular in practice and more secular in the makeup of their constituencies in that even most “conservative Christians” in America are political secular liberals through and through when it comes to the relationship between government and religion.  Yes, there is a part of the GOP that is itself fairly religious and this occasionally carries over into the party’s policy prescriptions in very limited ways, but this part does not even constitute the substance of the whole.  

AK is a party of political Islam, voted into power by Islamist voters and they make up virtually the entirety of the party.  AK (standing for the Turkish for Justice & Development: Adalet ve Kalkinma) is the redesigned, “acceptable” form of the National Salvation, Welfare, Virtue, Felicity and Motherland parties that came before it.  The constituencies of these successive parties are essentially the same–Erdogan was mayor of Istanbul as a member of Welfare.  If Islamist governments are generally undesirable or ultimately incompatible with constitutional government, the Turkish AK government must be found similarly wanting.  It might be that Kemalism is doomed to collapse and an Islamist Turkey is unavoidable, so it might be wise to learn how to live with that kind of Turkey, but pretending that AK is just the GOP or CDU with a headscarf is not the correct response.   

Or, as I wrote a couple years back:

The example of Turkey is not heartening, as it took a full seventy years from the establishment of the republic before a mostly free election could result in the election of a government the majority truly desired, and even that government was soon thrown out on account of its Islamism. Only by minimising its Islamism in public and in its rhetoric has Mr. Erdogan’s party been allowed by the army and the constitutional court to remain in power–this is hardly the ideal situation to hold up as proof of a successful synthesis of Islam and democracy. Turkey’s secular republic has succeeded in becoming more democratic to the extent that it has because its republican reforms very deliberately circumscribed the role of Islam in public and political life. The two are inherently incompatible–one must give way for the other to advance…