The nature of the religion-democracy nexus has been broadly analysed, revealing that not all religious traditions appear to be favourable to democracy. In particular, several scholars argue that democracy is not compatible with Islamic societies. This analysis focuses on a specific facet of this controversial issue. Confessional parties act as political representatives of a religious identity in the democratic arena, and their existence was a characteristic of the development of contemporary democracy in Europe between the 19th and 20th centuries. Self-‐perception is crucial to a system that aims by definition to represent its citizens, and at that time, the primary source of a common identity was linked to the Catholic religion. The same logic can be applied to Islamic countries today. In order to understand the relevance (if any) of confessional parties in the consolidation of Islamic democracies’, I revisited the formation of catholic parties in Belgium, Netherlands, Austria, Germany and Italy. Using the European experience, I developed a theoretical model for the formation of confessional parties’ and applied it to two young, Islamic democracies: Indonesia and Tunisia. The result of this comparison revealed several points of similarity: in these rare cases of Islamic democracies the confessional identity is involved in political activity through the mediation of Islamic parties, whose formation processes were substantially coherent with the expectations of the model based on the European empirical experience. The main divergences can be explained by the decentralisation of religious authority in the Islamic world. The fragmentation of Islamic authority has led to the creation of a range of distinct Islamic parties, but it also reduces the cost of the process : while the Church strongly opposed the formation of autonomous Catholic parties, in the absence of Islamic hierarchical authorities, the development of Islamic parties was the natural consequence of political liberalisation. The presence of fully-fledged and politically relevant confessional parties in the two main instances of Islamic democracies is not a coincidence. In the same way that Catholic parties played a crucial role in the consolidation of European democracies, so did theIslamic parties of Indonesia and Tunisia.