Christian Democratic Union of Germany

Published 19th September, 2013

The Christian Democratic Union of Germany or CDU was founded after the Second World War. Originally it was a loose grouping of Christian Democrats with some descent from the Centre Party founded in the 19th Century. After a strong showing in the 1947 Länder elections an alliance of these groups, including the Christian Social Union of Bavaria (CSU) came together under the leadership of Konrad Adenauer. In 1950 the CDU was formally created but with the CSU as a separate entity contesting elections in the Free State of Bavaria.

The party describes itself as Centre-right and believes in Christian Democracy and Liberal conservatism.

The CDU went on to win the 1949, 1953, 1957, 1961 and 1965 elections, predominantly under the leadership of Konrad Adenauer (until 1963). During that time they governed with the CSU and, for much of the time, also with the Free Democratic Party (FDP). In 1966 the CDU went on to form a ‘Grand Coalition’ with the Social Democratic Party of Germany (SPD).

Having dropped to 46.1% of the vote in the 1969 federal election and taking 201 of the 518 seats in the Bundestag the CDU went into opposition. The FDP joined the SPD to form a centre-left dominated government.

In 1983 the CDU were back in government after the FDP deserted the SPD and formed a fresh coalition government with the CDU/CSU under the leadership of Helmut Kohl. That combination was to survive the 1987, 1990 and 1994 elections and in 1990 Kohl was to steer the country back to reunification with East Germany. Reunification brought its own problems and in 1998 Kohl and the CDU were defeated as they dropped to just 198 of the 669 seats in the Bundestag. The 2002 election was equally bad, with the CDU picking up 190 seats in a 603 seat Bundestag.

In 2005 the CDU won more than ten state elections leaving the SPD without a majority in the upper house. As a result an early election was called and although the SPD emerged the largest party, after three weeks of negotiations the CDU took the chancellorship under Angela Merkel and the CDU and SPD split the Cabinet with eight portfolios each.

Although the CDU/CSU did not do especially well in the 2009 federal elections the SPD did spectacularly badly and the FDP had their best result ever, taking 93 of the 622 seats in the Bundestag. This allowed a CDU/CSU – FDP coalition government to be formed under the Chancellorship of Angela Merkel.

The Christian Democratic Union is a member of the Centrist Democrat International and International Democrat Union (IDU). It is also a member of the European People’s Party (EPP) in the European Parliament where it currently holds 34 of the 99 national seats.

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