CDU/CSU, unofficially the Union parties (German: Unionsparteien) or the Union, is the centre-right Christian democratic political alliance of two political parties in Germany, namely the Christian Democratic Union of Germany (CDU) and Christian Social Union in Bavaria (CSU).

According to German Federal Electoral Law, members of a parliamentary group which share the same basic political aims must not compete with one another in any federal state.[1] The CSU contests elections only in Bavaria, while the CDU operates in the other 15 states of Germany. The CSU also reflects the particular concerns of the largely rural, Catholic south.[2] While the two Christian Democratic parties are commonly described as sister parties and have been sharing a common parliamentary group in the Bundestag, the CDU/CSU Parliamentary Group in the German Bundestag[3] (German: CDU/CSU-Fraktion im Deutschen Bundestag)[4] since the foundation of the Federal Republic of Germany in 1949, the parties themselves officially remain completely independent with their own leadership and only few issue- or age-based joint organisations, which makes the alliance informal. However, in practice the committees of the parties harmonise their decisions with each other and the leader of one party is usually invited to party conventions of the other party.

Both the CDU and CSU are members of the European People's Party and the International Democrat Union. Both parties sit in the European People's Party group in the European Parliament. The CDU and CSU share a common youth organisation, the Youth Union, a common pupil organisation, the Pupil Union of Germany, a common student organisation, the Association of Christian Democratic Students and a common Mittelstand organisation, the Mittelstand and Business association.

ChairpersonAnnegret Kramp-Karrenbauer (CDU)
Markus Söder (CSU)
Parliamentary leaderRalph Brinkhaus
Youth wingYoung Union
IdeologyChristian democracy
Liberal conservatism
Political positionCentre-right
European affiliationEuropean People's Party
International affiliationInternational Democrat Union
Colours     Black
Seats in the Bundestag
246 / 709
28 / 69
State Parliaments
605 / 1,821
European Parliament
34 / 96
Prime ministers of states
7 / 16


Logo of CDU
Csu Logo 2016 neu
Logo of CSU

Both the CDU and the CSU were established after World War II and share a perspective based on Christian democracy and conservatism and hold the dominant centre-right position in the German political spectrum. The CSU is usually considered the de facto successor of the Weimar Republic–era Bavarian People's Party (BVP), which itself broke away from the all-German Catholic Centre Party (DZP) after World War I, but the CSU included also parts of the agrarian and liberal Bavarian Peasants' League and parts of the bavarian wing of the DVP. However the CDU's foundation was the result of a major re-organisation of the centre-right political camp compared to the Weimar Republic. Though the CDU was largely built as the de facto successor of the Centre Party, it successfully opened out to non-Catholic Christians (many of them affiliated with the German People's Party (DVP) until 1933) and successfully asserted itself as the only major conservative party (outside of Bavaria) against initial competition from other Catholic, Protestant or national conservative parties such as the German Party during the early years of the Federal Republic.

The BVP become sister party of the DZP and they did not compete against each other except for the Federal election, May 1924, the State election, 1924 and the Presidential election, 1925. Likewise, DZP and BVP were (mostly) jointly represented at the imperial governments.

For a short time the Christian People's Party of the Saarland (CVP), as sister party of the CSU, during the 1957 West German federal election, the German Social Union (DSU), as sister party of the CSU, before the 1990 East German general election, the East German CDU, as sister party of the CDU, until the German reunification and the Baden Christian-Social People's Party (BCSV), until 1947, existed.

Political stances

The CDU and the CSU usually only differ slightly in their political stances. The CSU is usually considered a bit more socially conservative (especially on family issues, e.g. the CSU favors providing infants' parents with compensation (Betreuungsgeld) if they intend not to use the public day nursery system to work[5] while the CDU favors public funding of day nurseries). The CSU government in Bavaria has implemented one of the strictest regulations for shopping hours in Germany in order to protect employees. The CSU also strongly opposed ideas of an income unrelated system of contributions to public health insurances, a proposal which met a lot of approval in the CDU in 2010.[6]

CSU politicians often make their mark as self-declared defenders of Bavaria's state rights and cultural independence from federal or European Union bureaucrats, even in times of conservative federal governments or conservative presidents of the European Commission. In 1998, then-Chancellor Helmut Kohl of the CDU had to pressure the CSU intensely not to veto the introduction of the euro as the new currency in Germany.[7] On the other hand, the name euro was the idea of former CSU chairman Theo Waigel, who served as finance minister when the euro was introduced and held a very pro-European position in contrast to the Bavarian government of Edmund Stoiber. Since 2016, the CSU has strongly been advocating the idea of a maximum number (Obergrenze) of 200,000 people per year to limit the number of asylum seekers. This is opposed by the CDU because they claim that it is impossible to limit the number through border control.[8]

While both parties officially identify themselves as non-denominational Christian, the Catholic influence on the CSU is far stronger than that on the CDU since Bavaria is predominantly Catholic while Christians in Germany as a whole are approximately equally balanced between Catholics and Protestants. There are nevertheless strong regional differences within Bavaria and Germany as a whole with large predominantly Protestant areas in northern Bavaria and large predominantly Catholic areas in North Rhine-Westphalia and South Western Germany having a strong effect on CDU state politicians. For instance, Saarland's former CDU minister-president Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer heavily opposed same-sex marriages in July 2017 while the CDU in Schleswig-Holstein was in favor, with Saarland having the largest share of Catholic Christians in any German state.


The differences between the CDU and the somewhat more socially conservative CSU have sometimes led to conflicts in the past. These tensions climaxed during the 1970s when Helmut Kohl became CDU chairman in 1973, then considered a moderate or even progressive politician and also a personal foe of the right-wing then-CSU chairman Franz Josef Strauss, who had held that office since 1961.

Brief 1976 separation

After the CDU/CSU narrowly lost the West German federal election of 1976 which had seen Kohl as the common chancellor candidate of the two parties, the CSU's future Bundestag representatives met on 19 November at a closed meeting at Wildbad Kreuth in a Hanns Seidel Foundation compound, which is CSU's educational foundation. With a vote of 30–18 and one abstention (with one invalid vote), the CSU deputies decided to separate from their common faction with the CDU deputies in the Bundestag. The decision had been initiated by CSU chairman Strauss, then himself a Bundestag deputy.

The official reasons were to create a more effective opposition (the CDU would approach moderate conservatives while the CSU would approach the right) and gain more speaking time in parliament.

As a party chairman, Strauss also announced that in addition the CSU as a party would terminate its self-restriction to Bavaria and foster the foundation of local CSU associations outside of the party's home state, running in all future German federal and state elections against the CDU on a distinctly more conservative platform than the CDU's. Strauss coined the term Vierte Partei (fourth party) after the CDU, the Social Democrats and the Free Democrats. This term was technically misleading since the CSU had always been a distinct party from the CDU, therefore four parties had already been represented during previous Bundestag terms. During the conflict, Deutsche Union (North Rhine-Westphalia), Christlich Soziale Wähler Union (Saarland), Partei Freier Bürger (Bremen), Bund Freies Deutschland (West-Berlin) and Aktionsgemeinschaft Vierte Partei were founded.

On 12 December, the vote was rescinded after the CDU had threatened in turn to form local associations within Bavaria and to run in Bavarian elections against the CSU.

2018 refugee dispute

In 2018, Interior Minister Horst Seehofer, a former Minister-President of Bavaria and the leader of the CSU, opposed CDU Chancellor Angela Merkel's policy on Syrian refugees in Germany. Seehofer hoped to place restrictions on incoming refugees, many of whom enter the country through Bavaria. His stance was seen as being in part motivated by the Bavarian elections in 2018 in which it was feared that the right-wing Alternative for Germany would make gains. The dispute threatened to bring down the Merkel government, which relied on the CSU for its parliamentary majority as Seehofer had indicated his resignation on 2 July, but already rescinded it a day later after an agreement over the issue between the coalition parties (CDU, CSU and SPD) had been reached.[9]

Leaders of the Group in the Bundestag

Federal Parliament (Bundestag)

Election year Chancellor candidate CDU CSU CDU/CSU Government
No. of
constituency votes
No. of
party list votes
% of
party list votes
No. of
constituency votes
No. of
party list votes
% of
party list votes
% of
party list votes
No. of
% of
1949 Konrad Adenauer (CDU) 5,978,636 25.2 1,380,448 5.8 31.0
139 / 402
34.6 Yes
1953 9,577,659 10,016,594 36.4 2,450,286 2,427,387 8.8 45.2
249 / 509
48.9 Increase 90 Yes
1957 11,975,400 11,875,339 39.7 3,186,150 3,133,060 10.5 50.2
277 / 519
53.3 Increase 28 Yes
1961 11,622,995 11,283,901 35.8 3,104,742 3,014,471 9.6 45.4
251 / 521
48.2 Decrease 26 Yes
1965 Ludwig Erhard (CDU) 12,631,319 12,387,562 38.0 3,204,648 3,136,506 9.6 47.6
251 / 518
48.5 Steady 0 Yes
1969 Kurt Georg Kiesinger (CDU) 12,137,148 12,079,535 36.6 3,094,176 3,115,652 9.5 46.1
250 / 518
48.3 Decrease 1 No
1972 Rainer Barzel (CDU) 13,304,813 13,190,837 35.2 3,620,625 3,615,183 9.7 44.9
234 / 518
45.2 Decrease 16 No
1976 Helmut Kohl (CDU) 14,423,157 14,367,302 38.0 4,008,514 4,027,499 10.6 48.6
254 / 518
49.0 Increase 20 No
1980 Franz Josef Strauß (CSU) 13,467,207 12,989,200 34.2 3,941,365 3,908,459 10.3 44.5
237 / 519
45.7 Decrease 17 No
1983 Helmut Kohl (CDU) 15,943,460 14,857,680 38.1 4,318,800 4,140,865 10.6 48.7
255 / 520
49.0 Increase 18 Yes
1987 14,168,527 13,045,745 34.4 3,859,244 3,715,827 9.8 44.2
234 / 519
45.1 Decrease 21 Yes
1990 17,707,574 17,055,116 36.7 3,423,904 3,302,980 7.1 43.8
319 / 662
48.2 Increase 85 Yes
1994 17,473,325 16,089,960 34.2 3,657,627 3,427,196 7.3 41.5
294 / 672
43.8 Decrease 25 Yes
1998 15,854,215 14,004,908 28.4 3,602,472 3,324,480 6.8 35.2
245 / 669
36.6 Decrease 49 No
2002 Edmund Stoiber (CSU) 15,336,512 14,167,561 29.5 4,311,178 4,315,080 9.0 38.5
248 / 603
41.1 Increase 3 No
2005 Angela Merkel (CDU) 15,390,950 13,136,740 27.8 3,889,990 3,494,309 7.4 35.2
226 / 614
36.8 Decrease 22 Yes
2009 13,856,674 11,828,277 27.3 3,191,000 2,830,238 6.5 33.8
239 / 622
38.4 Increase 13 Yes
2013 16,233,642 14,921,877 34.1 3,544,079 3,243,569 7.4 41.5
311 / 631
49.3 Increase 72 Yes
2017 14,027,804 12,445,832 26.8 3,255,604 2,869,744 6.2 33.0
246 / 709
34.7 Decrease 65 Yes

European Parliament

Election year CDU CSU CDU/CSU
No. of
party list votes
% of
party list votes
No. of
party list votes
% of
party list votes
% of
party list votes
No. of
% of
1979 10,883,085 39.1 2,817,120 10.1 49.2
40 / 78
1984 9,308,411 37.5 2,109,130 8.5 46.0
39 / 78
50.0 Decrease 1
1989 8,332,846 29.5 2,326,277 8.2 37.7
31 / 78
39.7 Decrease 8
1994 11,346,073 32.0 2,393,374 6.8 38.8
47 / 99
47.5 Increase 15
1999 10,628,224 39.3 2,540,007 9.4 48.7
53 / 99
53.5 Increase 6
2004 9,412,997 36.5 2,063,900 8.0 44.5
49 / 99
49.5 Decrease 4
2009 8,071,391 30.7 1,896,762 7.2 37.9
42 / 99
42.4 Decrease 7
2014 8,807,500 30.0 1,567,258 5.3 35.4
34 / 96
35.4 Decrease 8

See also


  1. ^ "Federal Electoral Law". German Law Archive. Retrieved 18 December 2016.
  2. ^ "Christian Democrat Union/Christian Social Union". Country Studies, Germany. Retrieved 18 December 2016.
  3. ^ "Christian Democratic Union/Christian Social Union (CDU/CSU) parliamentary group". German Bundestag. Retrieved 7 November 2017.
  4. ^ "Christian Democratic Union/Christian Social Union (CDU/CSU) parliamentary group". German Bundestag. Retrieved 7 November 2017.
  5. ^ "Care money a complete success". (in German). Retrieved 25 September 2017.
  6. ^ "CDU health experts Spahn: Reform is an opportunity for black and yellow". (in German). 3 June 2010. ISSN 0174-4917. Retrieved 25 September 2017.
  7. ^ Wirtgen, Klaus (13 October 1997). "The Stoiber system". Der Spiegel. 42. Retrieved 25 September 2017.
  8. ^ GmbH, Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung (29 July 2017). "CSU chief Seehofer pounds on upper limit". Retrieved 25 September 2017.
  9. ^ "As Europe’s Liberal Order Splinters, Trump Wields an Ax". Retrieved 17 October 2018.
  10. ^ "Members of parliament, members of parliament and political group staff - they function as a whole and ensure that the parties' policies are put into practice". CDU/CSU-Fraktion. Retrieved 25 September 2017.

External links

1957 West German federal election

Federal elections were held in West Germany on 15 September 1957 to elect the third Bundestag. The Christian Democratic Union and its longtime ally, the Christian Social Union in Bavaria, won a sweeping victory, taking 277 seats in the Bundestag to win the first--and to date, only--absolute majority for a single German parliamentary group in a free election.

1961 West German federal election

Federal elections were held in West Germany on 17 September 1961 to elect the members of the fourth Bundestag. CDU/CSU remained the largest faction, while the Social Democratic Party narrowly became the largest individual party in the Bundestag, winning 203 of the 521 seats.

1965 West German federal election

Federal elections were held in West Germany on 19 September 1965 to elect the members of the 5th Bundestag. The CDU/CSU remained the largest faction, while the Social Democratic Party remained the largest single party in the Bundestag, winning 251 of the 518 seats (including 15 of the 22 non-voting delegates for West Berlin).

1969 West German federal election

Federal elections were held in West Germany on 28 September 1969 to elect the members of the 6th Bundestag. The CDU/CSU remained the largest faction and the Social Democratic Party remained the largest single party in the Bundestag, winning 237 of the 518 seats.

1976 West German federal election

Federal elections were held in West Germany on 3 October 1976 to elect the members of the eighth Bundestag. Although the CDU/CSU alliance became the largest faction in parliament, Helmut Schmidt of the Social Democratic Party remained Chancellor.

1980 West German federal election

Federal elections were held in West Germany on 5 October 1980 to elect the members of the ninth Bundestag. Although the CDU/CSU remained the largest faction in parliament, Helmut Schmidt of the Social Democratic Party remained Chancellor.

1983 West German federal election

Federal elections were held in West Germany on 6 March 1983 to elect the members of the 10th Bundestag. The CDU/CSU alliance led by Helmut Kohl remained the largest faction in parliament, with Kohl remaining Chancellor.

1987 West German federal election

Federal elections were held in West Germany on 25 January 1987 to elect the members of the 11th Bundestag. This was the last federal election held in West Germany prior to German reunification.

1990 German federal election

Federal elections were held in Germany on 2 December 1990 to elect the members of the 12th Bundestag. This was the first multi-party all-German election since that of March 1933, which was held after the Nazi seizure of power and was subject to widespread suppression, and the first free and fair all-German election since November 1932. The result was a comprehensive victory for the governing coalition of the Christian Democratic Union/Christian Social Union and the Free Democratic Party, which was reelected to a third term.

1994 German federal election

Federal elections were held in Germany on 16 October 1994 to elect the members of the 13th Bundestag. The CDU/CSU alliance led by Helmut Kohl remained the largest faction in parliament, with Kohl remaining Chancellor. This elected Bundestag was largest in history until 2017, numbering 672 members.

1998 German federal election

Federal elections were held in Germany on 27 September 1998 to elect the members of the 14th Bundestag. The Social Democratic Party emerged as the largest faction in parliament, with its leader Gerhard Schröder becoming Chancellor.

2005 German federal election

Federal elections were held in Germany on 18 September 2005 to elect the members of the 16th Bundestag. This became necessary after a motion of confidence in Chancellor Gerhard Schröder failed on 1 July. Following the defeat of Schröder's Social Democratic Party (SPD) in a state election, Schröder asked his supporters to abstain from the Bundestag motion, knowing the motion would fail and thus triggering an early federal election.

The opposition Christian Democratic Union (CDU) and its sister party in Bavaria, the Christian Social Union (CSU), started the federal election campaign with a 21% lead over the SPD in opinion polls. Many commentators expected the Christian Democrats to win a clear electoral victory and that CDU leader Angela Merkel would become Chancellor, forming a government with the Free Democratic Party (FDP) and displacing the governing SPD-Green coalition. However, the CDU/CSU significantly lost momentum during the campaign and ultimately won only 1% more votes and four more seats than the SPD.

Exit polls showed clearly that neither coalition group had won a majority of seats in the Bundestag, leading to a hung parliament situation. Both parties lost seats compared to 2002, as did the Greens, while only the Left Party (a partial successor of the Party of Democratic Socialism led by Gregor Gysi and former SPD chairman Oskar Lafontaine) made significant gains. Both Schröder and Merkel claimed victory, but the formation of a new government required careful negotiations. On 10 October 2005, officials from the SPD and the CDU/CSU indicated that negotiations between the two had concluded successfully and that the participating parties would form a grand coalition with Angela Merkel as Chancellor. When the Bundestag met on 22 November, 397 CDU/CSU and SPD Bundestag members duly voted for Merkel.

2009 German federal election

Federal elections took place on 27 September 2009 to elect the members of the 17th Bundestag (parliament) of Germany. Preliminary results showed that the Christian Democratic Union (CDU), its Bavarian sister party, the Christian Social Union (CSU), and the Free Democratic Party (FDP) won the election, and the three parties announced their intention to form a new centre-right government with Angela Merkel as Chancellor. Their main opponent, Frank-Walter Steinmeier's Social Democratic Party (SPD), conceded defeat. The Christian Democrats previously governed in coalition with the FDP in most of the 1949–1966 governments of Konrad Adenauer and Ludwig Erhard and the 1982–1998 governments of Helmut Kohl.

2009 German presidential election

An indirect presidential election (officially the 13th Federal Convention) was held in Germany on 23 May 2009. The President of Germany is elected by the Federal Convention, which is made up of the members of the Bundestag and an equal number of members elected by the state parliaments.The incumbent Horst Köhler (supported by CDU/CSU and FDP) stood for reelection and faced Gesine Schwan (supported by SPD and Alliance '90/The Greens).The Left (successor of the Party of Democratic Socialism) indicated they might be prepared to support Schwan if the SPD agreed to be open to cooperation with the Left on the federal level, but ultimately decided they would present their own candidate. The party nominated party activist and TV actor Peter Sodann on 14 October 2008; and it was left undecided whether the party would support Schwan if Sodann was eliminated after the first round of voting.

Frank Rennicke was nominated as the joint candidate of the NPD and its sister party the DVU.

Following the Hesse state elections in January 2009, which strengthened CDU and FDP, and the Free Voters' promise to support Köhler, his reelection was seen as likely; however, CDU/CSU, FDP and Free Voters only had a slim majority in the Federal Assembly (50.16%), which made the election very competitive. In the end, Köhler was reelected in the first round of voting by 613 votes, which was exactly the minimum number of votes necessary. His nearest rival's, Social Democrat Gesine Schwan, received 503 votes making a second round unnecessary. It has been seen by some as an important indicator for the federal elections in September.

2013 German federal election

Federal elections were held on 22 September to elect the members of the 18th Bundestag of Germany. At stake were all 598 seats to the Bundestag, plus 33 overhang seats determined thereafter. The Christian Democratic Union/Christian Social Union (CDU/CSU) of Chancellor Angela Merkel won their best result since 1990, with nearly 42% of the vote and nearly 50% of the seats (five short for an overall majority). However, their coalition partner, the Free Democrats (FDP), failed to meet the 5% vote threshold in what was their worst showing ever in a federal election, thus denying them seats in the Bundestag for the first time in their history.

Merkel's party reached a coalition agreement with the then-main opposition party, the Social Democrats (SPD), to form a grand coalition; the third in the country's history since World War II. The SPD leadership conducted a ratification vote by their broader membership before the agreement was made final.

2017 German federal election

Federal elections were held in Germany on 24 September 2017 to elect the members of the 19th Bundestag. At stake were all 598 seats in the Bundestag, as well as 111 overhang and levelling seats determined thereafter.

The Christian Democratic Union/Christian Social Union (CDU/CSU), led by Chancellor Angela Merkel, won the highest percentage of the vote with 33%, though suffered a large swing against it of more than 8%. The Social Democratic Party (SPD) achieved its worst result since the Second World War with only 20% of the vote. Alternative for Germany (AfD)—which was previously unrepresented in the Bundestag—became the third party in the Bundestag with 12.6% of the vote, whilst the Free Democrats (FDP) won 10.7% of the vote and returned to the Bundestag after losing all their seats in the 2013 election. The other parties to achieve representation in the Bundestag were the Left and the Greens, who each won close to 9% of the vote. In the 709 member Bundestag, the CDU/CSU won 246 seats (200 CDU and 46 CSU), SPD 153, AfD 94, FDP 80, the Left (Linke) 69, and the Greens 67. A majority is 355.

For the second consecutive occasion, the CDU/CSU reached a coalition agreement with the SPD to form a grand coalition, the fourth in post-war German history. The new government took office on 14 March 2018. The agreement came after a failed attempt by the CDU/CSU to enter into a "Jamaica coalition" with the Greens and the Free Democrats, which the latter pulled out of citing irreconcilable differences between the parties on migration and energy policy.

Christian Democratic Union of Germany

The Christian Democratic Union of Germany (German: Christlich Demokratische Union Deutschlands or CDU; German pronunciation: [ˈkʁɪstlɪç ˌdemoˈkʁaːtɪʃə ʔuˈni̯oːn ˈdɔʏtʃlants]) is a Christian democratic and liberal-conservative political party in Germany. It is the major catch-all party of the centre-right in German politics. The CDU forms the CDU/CSU grouping, also known as the Union, in the Bundestag with its Bavarian counterpart the Christian Social Union in Bavaria (CSU). The party is widely considered an effective successor of the Centre Party, although it has a broader base.The leader of the CDU is Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer. She is the successor of the former party leader Angela Merkel, who is the current Chancellor of Germany. The CDU is a member of the Centrist Democrat International, International Democrat Union and European People's Party (EPP).

List of Chancellors of Germany

The Chancellor of Germany is the political leader of Germany and the head of the Federal Government. The office holder is responsible for selecting all other members of the government and chairing cabinet meetings.The office was created in the North German Confederation in 1867, when Otto von Bismarck became the first Chancellor. With the unification of Germany and establishment of the German Empire in 1871, the Confederation evolved into a German nation-state and the office became known as the Chancellor of Germany.Originally, the Chancellor was only responsible to the Emperor. This changed with the constitutional reform in 1918, when the Parliament was given the right to dismiss the Chancellor. Under the 1919 Weimar Constitution the Chancellors were appointed by the directly elected President, but were responsible to Parliament. The constitution was set aside during the 1933–1945 Nazi dictatorship. During Allied occupation, no independent German government and no Chancellor existed; and the office was not reconstituted in East Germany. The 1949 Basic Law made the Chancellor the most important office in West Germany, while diminishing the role of the President.

Presidium of the Bundestag

The Presidium of the Bundestag is responsible for the routine administration of the Bundestag, including its clerical and research activities. The presidium consists of the President of the Bundestag and a variable number of Vice Presidents, currently six.

The president is elected by all members of the Bundestag during its first meeting; he almost always comes from the largest fraction in the Bundestag (tradition has made this a sort of an unwritten law). His administration ends with the end of the legislature, but he can be re-elected, as long as he is re-elected to the Bundestag.

In 1994 it was decided that every faction in the Bundestag should be represented by a Vice President.

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