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).
Christian Democratic Union of Germany
Christlich Demokratische Union Deutschlands
|Vice Chairmen||Volker Bouffier|
Ursula von der Leyen
|General Secretary||Paul Ziemiak|
|Founded||26 June 1945|
|Split from||Centre Party|
|Headquarters||Klingelhöferstraße 8 10785 Berlin, Germany|
|Youth wing||Young Union|
|Membership (January 2018)||425,910|
|European affiliation||European People's Party|
|International affiliation||Centrist Democrat International|
International Democrat Union
|European Parliament group||European People's Party|
200 / 709
22 / 69
520 / 1,821
29 / 96
|Prime ministers of states|
6 / 16
Immediately following the collapse of the Nazi dictatorship at the end of World War II, the need for a new political order in Germany was paramount. Simultaneous yet unrelated meetings began occurring throughout Germany, each with the intention of planning a Christian-democratic party. The CDU was established in Berlin on 26 June 1945 and in Rheinland and Westfalen in September of the same year.
The founding members of the CDU consisted primarily of former members of the Centre Party, the German Democratic Party, the German National People's Party and the German People's Party. Many of these individuals, including CDU-Berlin founder Andreas Hermes, were imprisoned for the involvement in the German Resistance during the Nazi dictatorship. In the Cold War years after World War II up to the 1960s (see Vergangenheitsbewältigung), the CDU also attracted conservative, anti-communist former Nazis and Nazi collaborators into its higher ranks (like Hans Globke and Theodor Oberländer). A prominent anti-Nazi member was theologian Eugen Gerstenmaier, who became Acting Chairman of the Foreign Board (1949-1969).
One of the lessons learned from the failure of the Weimar Republic was that disunity among the democratic parties ultimately allowed for the rise of the Nazi Party. It was therefore crucial to create a unified party of Christian democrats—a Christian Democratic Union. The result of these meetings was the establishment of an interconfessional (Catholic and Protestant alike) party influenced heavily by the political tradition of liberal conservatism. The CDU experienced considerable success gaining support from the time of its creation in Berlin on 26 June 1945 until its first convention on 21 October 1950, at which Chancellor Konrad Adenauer was named the first Chairman of the party.
In the beginning, it was not clear which party would be favored by the victors of World War II, but by the end of the 1940s the governments of the United States and of Britain began to lean toward the CDU and away from the Social Democratic Party of Germany (SPD). The latter was more nationalist and sought German reunification even at the expense of concessions to the Soviet Union, depicting Adenauer as an instrument of both the Americans and the Vatican. The Western powers appreciated the CDU's moderation, its economic flexibility and its value as an oppositional force to the communists which appealed to European voters at the time. Adenauer was also trusted by the British.
The party was split over issues of rearmament within the Western alliance and German unification as a neutral state. Adenauer staunchly defended his pro-Western position and outmanoeuvred some of his opponents. He also refused to consider the SPD as a party of the coalition until he felt sure that they shared his anti-communist position. The principled rejection of a reunification that would alienate Germany from the Western alliance made it harder to attract Protestant voters to the party as most refugees from the former German territories east of the Oder were of that faith as were the majority of the inhabitants of East Germany.
The CDU was the dominant party for the first two decades following the establishment of West Germany in 1949. Adenauer remained the party's leader until 1963, at which point the former minister of economics Ludwig Erhard replaced him. As the Free Democratic Party (FDP) withdrew from the governing coalition in 1966 due to disagreements over fiscal and economic policy, Erhard was forced to resign. Consequently, a grand coalition with the SPD took over government under CDU Chancellor Kurt Georg Kiesinger.
The SPD quickly gained popularity and succeeded in forming a social-liberal coalition with the FDP following the 1969 federal election, forcing the CDU out of power for the first time in their history. The CDU continued its role as opposition until 1982, when the FDP's withdrawal from the coalition with the SPD allowed the CDU to regain power.
CDU Chairman Helmut Kohl became the new Chancellor of West Germany and his CDU–FDP coalition was confirmed in the 1983 federal election. Public support for the coalition's work in the process of German reunification was reiterated in the 1990 federal election in which the CDU–FDP governing coalition experienced a clear victory.
After the collapse of the East German government in 1989, Kohl—supported by the governments of the United States and reluctantly by those of France and the United Kingdom—called for German reunification. On 3 October 1990, the government of East Germany was abolished and its territory acceded to the scope of the Basic Law already in place in West Germany. The East German CDU merged with its West German counterpart and elections were held for the reunified country. Although Kohl was re-elected, the party began losing much of its popularity because of an economic recession in the former GDR and increased taxes in the west. The CDU was nonetheless able to win the 1994 federal election by a narrow margin due to an economic recovery.
Kohl served as chairman until the party's electoral defeat in 1998, when he was succeeded by Wolfgang Schäuble. Schäuble resigned in early 2000 as a result of a party financing scandal and was replaced by Angela Merkel, who remained the leader of the CDU until 2018. In the 1998 federal election, the CDU polled 28.4% and the CSU 6.7% of the national vote, which was the lowest result for CDU/CSU since 1949 and a red–green coalition under the leadership of Gerhard Schröder took power until 2005. In 2002, the CDU and CSU polled slightly higher (29.5% and 9.0%, respectively), but still lacked the majority needed for a CDU–FDP coalition government.
In 2005, early elections were called after the CDU dealt the governing SPD a major blow, winning more than ten state elections, most of which were landslide victories. The resulting grand coalition between the CDU/CSU and the SPD faced a serious challenge stemming from both parties' demand for the chancellorship. After three weeks of negotiations, the two parties reached a deal whereby CDU received the chancellorship while the SPD retained 8 of the 16 seats in the cabinet and a majority of the most prestigious cabinet posts. The coalition deal was approved by both parties at party conferences on 14 November. Merkel was confirmed as the first female Chancellor of Germany by the majority of delegates (397 to 217) in the newly assembled Bundestag on 22 November.
Although the CDU/CSU lost support in the 2009 federal elections, the FDP experienced the best election cycle in their history, thereby enabling a CDU/CSU–FDP coalition. This marked the first change of coalition partner by a Chancellor in German history and the first centre-right coalition government since 1998. CDU/CSU–FDP coalition lasted until the 2013 federal election, when FDP lost all their seats in the Bundestag. The CDU/CSU thus formed a new grand coalition with the SPD. In the 2017 election, the CDU/CSU lost a large portion of their voteshare. After failing to negotiate a coalition with the FDP and Greens, they continued their grand coalition with the SPD. In October 2018, Merkel announced that she would step down as leader of the CDU in December 2018, but wanted to remain as Chancellor until 2021.
On 7 December 2018, Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer was elected as new party leader of the CDU in the Christian Democratic Union of Germany leadership election.
While Adenauer and Erhard co-operated with non-Nazi parties to their right, the CDU has later worked to marginalize its right-wing opposition. The loss of anti-communism as a political theme, secularization and the cultural revolutions in West Germany occurring since the 1960s have challenged the viability of the CDU.
In her 2005 campaign, Angela Merkel was unwilling to express explicitly Christian views while maintaining that her party had never lost its concept of values. Merkel and Bundestag President Norbert Lammert have been keen to clarify that CDU references to the "dominant culture" imply "tolerance and living together". According to party analyst Stephan Eisel, her avoiding the values-issue may have had the opposite effect as she failed to mobilize the party's core constituency.
The CDU applies the principles of Christian democracy and emphasizes the "Christian understanding of humans and their responsibility toward God". However, CDU membership consists of people adhering to a variety of religions as well as non-religious individuals. The CDU's policies derive from political Catholicism, Catholic social teaching and political Protestantism as well as fiscal conservatism and national conservatism. The party has adopted more liberal economic policies since Helmut Kohl's term in office as the Chancellor of Germany (1982–1998).
As a conservative party, the CDU supports stronger punishments of crimes and involvement on the part of the Bundeswehr in cases of domestic anti-terrorism offensives. In terms of immigrants, the CDU supports initiatives to integrate immigrants through language courses and aims to further control immigration. Dual citizenship should only be allowed in exceptional cases.
In terms of foreign policy, the CDU commits itself to European integration and a strong relation with the United States. In the European Union, the party opposes the entry of Turkey, preferring instead a privileged partnership. In addition to citing various human rights violations, the CDU also believes that Turkey's unwillingness to recognise Cyprus as an independent sovereign state contradicts the European Union policy that its members must recognise the existence of one another.
The CDU has governed in four federal-level and numerous state-level Grand Coalitions with the Social Democratic Party (SPD) as well as in state and local-level coalitions with the Alliance '90/The Greens. The CDU rejects coalitions with either far-left or far-right parties.
According to news media, the CDU had 420,240 members by June 2018. In 2017, it had added a net 1,000, the first increase since 2003. In May 2012, the CDU had 484,397 members. The number has dropped by 3.1% in 2011 and 3.0% in 2010.
In 2012, the members' average age was 59 years. 6% of the Christian Democrats were under 30 years old. A 2007 study by the Konrad Adenauer Foundation showed that 25.4% of members were female and 74.6% male. Female participation was higher in the former East German states with 29.2% compared to 24.8% in the former West German states.
Before 1966, membership totals in CDU organisation were only estimated. The numbers after 1966 are based on the total from 31 December of the previous year.
|Lower Saxony||Bernd Althusmann||72,813|
|North Rhine-Westphalia||Armin Laschet||165,273|
Both the CDU and the Christian Social Union in Bavaria (CSU) originated after World War II, sharing a concern for the Christian worldview. In the Bundestag, the CDU is represented in a common faction with the CSU. This faction is called CDU/CSU, or informally the Union. Its basis is a binding agreement known as a Fraktionsvertrag between the two parties.
The CDU and CSU share a common youth organisation, the Junge Union, a common pupil organisation, the Schüler Union Deutschlands, a common student organisation, the Ring Christlich-Demokratischer Studenten and a common Mittelstand organisation, the Mittelstands- und Wirtschaftsvereinigung.
On issues of federal policies, the CDU and CSU do not differ, but they remain legally and organisationally separate parties. The social differences between the CDU and the somewhat more socially conservative CSU have sometimes been a source of conflict in the past. The most notable and serious such incident was in 1976, when the CSU under Franz Josef Strauß ended the alliance with the CDU at a party conference in Wildbad Kreuth. This decision was reversed shortly thereafter when the CDU threatened to run candidates against the CSU in Bavaria.
The relationship of CDU to the CSU has historic parallels to previous Christian-democratic parties in Germany, with the Catholic Centre Party having served as a national Catholic party throughout the German Empire and the Weimar Republic while the Bavarian People's Party functioning as the Bavarian variant.
Since its formation, the CSU has been more conservative than the CDU. The CSU and the state of Bavaria decided not to sign the Basic Law for the Federal Republic of Germany as they insisted on more autonomy for the individual states. The CSU and the free state of Bavaria have a separate police and justice system (distinctive and non-federal) and have actively participated in all political affairs of the Bundestag, the German government, the Bundesrat, the parliamentary elections of the German President, the European Parliament and meetings with Mikhail Gorbachev in Russia.
The Konrad Adenauer Foundation is the think-tank of the CDU. It is named after the first Chancellor of the Federal Republic of Germany and first president of the CDU. The foundation offers political education, conducts scientific fact-finding research for political projects, grants scholarships to gifted individuals, researches the history of Christian democracy and supports and encourages European unification, international understanding and development-policy cooperation. Its annual budget amounts to around 120 million euro and is mostly funded by taxpayer money.
Notable suborganisations of the CDU are the following:
|Kurt Georg Kiesinger||1967–1971|
|Chairperson of the CDU/CSU group||Period|
|Heinrich von Brentano di Tremezzo||1949–1955|
|Heinrich von Brentano di Tremezzo||1961–1964|
|Chancellor of Germany||Time in office|
|Kurt Georg Kiesinger||1966–1969|
|Election year||Leader||No. of
party list votes
party list votes
overall seats won
115 / 402
197 / 509
222 / 519
201 / 521
202 / 518
|1969||Kurt Georg Kiesinger||12,137,148||12,079,535||36.6||
201 / 518
186 / 518
201 / 518
185 / 519
202 / 520
185 / 519
268 / 662
244 / 672
198 / 669
190 / 603
180 / 614
194 / 622
254 / 630
200 / 709
|Election year||No. of
overall seats won
33 / 81
32 / 81
24 / 81
39 / 99
43 / 99
40 / 99
34 / 99
29 / 96
Note that the CDU does not contest elections in Bavaria due to the alliance with Bavarian sister party, the CSU.
|State Parliament||Election year||No. of
42 / 138
31 / 160
21 / 88
20 / 83
20 / 121
40 / 137
|Lower Saxony||2017||2,707,274||35.4 (2nd)||
50 / 137
16 / 71
|North Rhine-Westphalia||2017||2,796,683||33 (1st)||
72 / 199
35 / 101
24 / 51
59 / 126
30 / 87
25 / 73
34 / 91
Alfred Gomolka (born 21 July 1942 in Breslau) is a German politician and Member of the European Parliament for Mecklenburg-Vorpommern. He was a member of the conservative Christian Democratic Union of Germany, part of the European People's Party from 1994 to 2008. He is now retired and lives in Mecklenburg-Vorpommern.
He was the first Minister President of Mecklenburg-Vorpommern and served as the President of the Bundesrat from 1 November 1991 to 19 March 1992, being the first head of an East-German state to do so. Gomolka tried to avoid the takeover of the East-German shipyards by the West-German Bremer Vulkan AG, which was proposed during the post-communistic privatizations. After he was forced to leave office in 1992, the East German shipyards were sold to the Bremen shipbuilder by his predecessor. In the following years the Bremer Vulkan illegally transferred subsidies of 350 Million Euros to keep jobs at the Shipyards in Bremen running.Arenz, Röder and Dagmar v. Germany
Arenz, Röder and Dagmar v. Germany (Communication No. 1138/2002) was a case decided by the UN Human Rights Committee in 2004.Berndt Seite
Berndt Seite (born 22 April 1940 in Hahnswalde, Trebnitz) is a German politician. He was the 2nd minister president of Mecklenburg-Vorpommern from 1992 to 1998 and the 45th president of the German Bundesrat in 1992.Bernhard Vogel
Bernhard Vogel (German pronunciation: [bɛɐnˈhaʁt ˈfɔgəl]; born 19 December 1932) is a German politician (CDU). He was the 4th Minister President of Rhineland-Palatinate from 1976 to 1988 and the 2nd Minister President of Thuringia from 1992 to 2003. He is the only person to have been head of two different German federal states and is the longest governing Minister President of Germany. He served as the 28th and 40th President of the Bundesrat in 1976/77 and 1987/88.CDU/CSU
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. 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. 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 (German: CDU/CSU-Fraktion im Deutschen Bundestag) 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.Daniel Günther
Daniel Günther (born 24 July 1973) is a German politician of Christian Democratic Union of Germany (CDU). Since 28 June 2017 he serves as the Minister President of Schleswig-Holstein. Since 1 November 2018 he also serves President of the Bundesrat.Detlef Irrgang
Detlef Irrgang (born 27 May 1966) is a German former footballer who played as an attacking midfielder. He is best remembered for his two spells with Energie Cottbus, spanning 22 years, over 400 appearances, and the reunification of Germany.Doris Pack
Doris Pack (born 18 March 1942, Schiffweiler) is a German politician, President of EPP Women and former Member of the European Parliament 1989-2014. She served as a member of the Bundestag 1974–1983 and 1985–1989. She is a member of the conservative Christian Democratic Union, part of the European People's Party. Pack is the chair of the EU Committee on Culture and Education (since 2009).She is chair of the Franco-German Foundation for Cultural Cooperation, President of the European Children's Book Fair Association, member of the ZDF Television Council, President of the Saar Adult Education Association, Vice-President of the European Movement on the Saar. She also is President of Women in the EPP and Executive Member of the European People's Party. She was a member of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe and of the Assembly of the Western European Union (1981-1983 and 1985-1989). She is Chairwoman of the Advisory Board of A Soul for Europe.
She graduated from teaching college in 1965 and worked as a teacher in primary schools until 1974. From 1983 to 1985, she was employed by the Saarland Ministry of Education. In 2007 she got honoris causa doctorate at University of Zadar (Croatia).Eberhard Gienger
Eberhard Gienger (born 21 July 1951) is a German politician (CDU) and former West German gymnast. He competed at the 1972 and 1976 Summer Olympics, winning bronze in the latter.Elisabeth Jeggle
Elisabeth Jeggle (born 21 July 1947) is a German politician and Member of the European Parliament for Baden-Württemberg. She is a member of the conservative Christian Democratic Union, part of the European People's Party.Ewald Bucher
Ewald Bucher (19 July 1914 in Rottenburg am Neckar, Kingdom of Württemberg – 4 November 1991 in Mutlangen) was a German politician of the FDP.
He received a Juris Doctor from the University of Munich in 1941 and served then as a soldier in World War II from 1941 to 1944. During the Third Reich he was a member of the Nazi Party and of the SA. After the Second World War he joined the Free Democratic Party. From 1945 to 1953, he was a lawyer in Schwäbisch Gmünd.
From December 1962 to March 1965, he was West German Minister of Justice. In 1964, he tried to become the West German Bundespräsident, but Heinrich Lübke was re-elected.
From October 1965 to October 1966, he was West German Minister for regional planning, construction and urban development. He and three other FDP-Ministers resigned in October 1966 to make the downfall of Chancellor Ludwig Erhard complete.
From 1953 to 1969, he was a member of the West German Bundestag.
From 1984, he was a member of the CDU.Franz Etzel
Franz Etzel (12 August 1902 – 9 May 1970) was a German politician of the CDU.
Etzel was born in Wesel, Rhine Province. From 1949 to 4 January 1953 and from 1957 to 1965 Etzel was member of the German Bundestag. From 1957 to 1961 he was Minister of Finance. He died in Wittlaer by Düsseldorf, aged 67.Franz Meyers
Franz Josef Heinrich Georg Meyers (31 July 1908 – 27 January 2002) was a German politician (CDU) and the 4th Minister President of North Rhine-Westphalia between 21 July 1958 and 8 December 1966. He was born and died in Mönchengladbach.Grand coalition (Germany)
In modern Germany with its parliamentary system of government on federal and on state level, grand coalition (German: Große Koalition) describes a governing coalition of the two biggest parties in one parliament. In most cases (but not necessarily) this means a coalition of the Union (consisting of the sister parties CDU and CSU) and the Social Democrats (SPD).Kurt Schmücker
Kurt Schmücker (10 November 1919 – 6 January 1996) was a German politician, member of Christian Democratic Union.
Kurt Schmücker was born on 10 November 1919 in Löningen, in the Prussian Province of Hanover.
In 1938 Schmücker ended a book printing course and started working in local newspapers. From 1940 to 1945 he served in the German infantry during World War II.
In 1937, Schmücker joined Nazi Party. Schmücker joined the CDU in 1946. He represented Cloppenburg – Vechta in the German Federal Parliament from 1953 to 1972.
From 17 October 1963 to 30 November 1966 he served as minister for Economics and Technology. From 1966 to 1969 he was served as minister for the Treasury.Manfred Roeder
Manfred Roeder (6 February 1929 – 30 July 2014) was a German lawyer, Wehrmacht soldier, prominent Holocaust denier and a far-right activist.Paul Lücke
Paul Lücke (13 November 1914 in Schönborn, Rhine Province – 10 August 1976) was a German politician and civil servant. He served as Germany's Federal Minister of the Interior from 1965–1968.
Lücke was a member of the Christian Democratic Union since the party's foundation in 1945. In the 1949 election he gained a seat in the inaugural Bundestag, which he held until 1972. Following the 1965 election, Lücke was appointed Minister of the Interior by Ludwig Erhard.Peter Altmeier
Peter Altmeier (12 August 1899 – 28 August 1977) was a German politician (Zentrum, later of the CDU). From 1947 to 1969 he was the Minister President of Rhineland-Palatinate. He served as the President of the Bundesrat in 1954/55 and 1965/66. He was born in Saarbrücken and died in Koblenz. He was the longest governing German Minister-President in one single state—longest at all was Bernhard Vogel.Young Union
The Junge Union Deutschlands (Young Union of Germany) or JU is the joint
youth organisation of the two conservative German political parties, CDU and CSU. Membership is limited to individuals between 14 and 35 years of age.Junge Union claims to be the largest political youth organization in Germany and Europe with about 120,000 members.