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Weapons of the Meek: Party Coalitions and Religious Influence on Policy
How do religious authorities influence politics? Dominant explanations focus on electoral coalitions with political parties. Such coalitions ostensibly exchange electoral mobilization by churches for policy concessions by governing parties afterwards. Yet the post-communist experience suggests considerable skepticism. Such church-party coalitions logically require mutual commitments that are often non-credible. Moreover, they frequently backfire, and church-favored parties suffer at the ballot box. Such overt and partisan politicking hurts the churches as well, and reduces their moral authority in society. In short, such coalitions rarely result in religious influence on public policy, and are frequently a sign of weakness of both parties and churches. Instead, to influence policy, religious actors rely on direct but covert access to policymaking and legislative institutions: a source of policy influence that is easily overlooked by both voters and scholars.