The Christian Social Union in Bavaria (Christlich-Soziale Union in Bayern (help·info), CSU) is a Christian-democratic and conservative political party in Germany. The CSU operates only in Bavaria while its larger counterpart, the Christian Democratic Union (CDU), operates in the other fifteen states of Germany. It differs from the CDU by being somewhat more conservative in social matters. The CSU is considered an effective successor of the Weimar-era Catholic Bavarian People's Party (BVP).
At the federal level, the CSU forms a common faction in the Bundestag with the CDU, which is frequently referred to as the Union Faction (die Unionsfraktion). The CSU has had 46 seats in the Bundestag since the 2017 federal election, making it the smallest of the seven parties represented. Until the 2013 federal election, the CDU/CSU formed federal government in coalition with the Free Democratic Party (FDP). The CSU is a member of the European People's Party (EPP) and the International Democrat Union. The CSU currently has three ministers in the cabinet of Germany of the federal government in Berlin, including party leader Horst Seehofer who is Federal Minister of the Interior while party member Markus Söder serves as Minister-President of Bavaria, a position that CSU representatives have held from 1946 to 1954 and again since 1957.
Christian Social Union in Bavaria
Christlich-Soziale Union in Bayern
|Secretary General||Markus Blume|
|Preceded by||Bavarian People's Party|
(not legal predecessor)
|Youth wing||Young Union|
|Membership (December 2017)||141,000|
|European affiliation||European People's Party|
|International affiliation||International Democrat Union|
|European Parliament group||European People's Party|
46 / 709
6 / 69
|Landtag of Bavaria|
85 / 205
5 / 96
|Ministers-president of states|
1 / 16
Franz Josef Strauß (1915–1988) had left behind the strongest legacy as a leader of the party, having led the party from 1961 until his death in 1988. His political career in the federal cabinet was unique in that he had served four ministerial posts in the years between 1953 and 1969. From 1978 until his death in 1988, Strauß served as the Minister-President of Bavaria. Strauß was the first leader of the CSU to be a candidate for the German chancellery in 1980. In the 1980 federal election, Strauß ran against the incumbent Helmut Schmidt of the Social Democratic Party of Germany (SPD), but lost thereafter as the SPD and the Free Democratic Party (FDP) managed to secure an absolute majority together, forming a social-liberal coalition.
The CSU has led the Bavarian state government since it came into existence in 1946, save from 1954 to 1957 when the SPD formed a state government in coalition with the Bavaria Party and the state branches of the GB/BHE and FDP. Before the 2008 elections in Bavaria, the CSU perennially achieved absolute majorities at the state level by itself. This level of dominance is unique among Germany's 16 states. Edmund Stoiber took over the CSU leadership in 1999. He ran for Chancellor of Germany in 2002, but his preferred CDU/CSU–FDP coalition lost against the SPD candidate Gerhard Schröder's SPD–Green alliance.
In the 2003 Bavarian state election, the CSU won 60.7% of the vote and 124 of 180 seats in the state parliament. This was the first time any party had won a two thirds majority in a German state parliament. The Economist later suggested that this exceptional result was due to a backlash against Schröder's government in Berlin. The CSU's popularity declined in subsequent years. Stoiber stepped down from the posts of Minister-President and CSU chairman in September 2007. A year later, the CSU lost its majority in the 2008 Bavarian state election, with its vote share dropping from 60.7% to 43.4%. The CSU remained in power by forming a coalition with the FDP. In the 2009 general election, the CSU received only 42.5% of the vote in Bavaria in the 2009 election, which constitutes its weakest showing in the party's history.
The CSU made gains in the 2013 Bavarian state election and the 2013 federal election, which were held a week apart in September 2013. The CSU regained their majority in the Bavarian Landtag and remained in government in Berlin. They have three ministers in Angela Merkel's current cabinet, namely Horst Seehofer (Minister of the Interior, Building and Community), Andreas Scheuer (Minister of Transport and Digital Infrastructure) and Gerd Müller (Minister for Economic Cooperation and Development).
The CSU is the sister party of the Christian Democratic Union (CDU). Together, they are called The Union. The CSU operates only within Bavaria and the CDU operates in all other states, but not Bavaria. While virtually independent, at the federal level the parties form a common CDU/CSU faction. No Chancellor has ever come from the CSU, although Strauß and Edmund Stoiber were CDU/CSU candidates for Chancellor in the 1980 federal election and the 2002 federal election, respectively, which were both won by the Social Democratic Party of Germany (SPD). Below the federal level, the parties are entirely independent.
Since its formation, the CSU has been more conservative than the CDU. The CSU and the state of Bavaria decided not to sign the Grundgesetz of the Federal Republic of Germany as they could not agree with the division of Germany into two states after World War II. Although Bavaria like all German states has a separate police and justice system (distinctive and non-federal), the CSU has actively participated in all political affairs of the German Parliament, the German government, the German Bundesrat, the parliamentary elections of the German President, the European Parliament and meetings with Mikhail Gorbachev in Russia.
|1st||Josef Müller||17 December 1945||28 May 1949|
|2nd||Hans Ehard||28 May 1949||22 January 1955|
|3rd||Hanns Seidel||22 January 1955||16 February 1961|
|4th||Franz Josef Strauß||18 March 1961||3 October 1988|
|5th||Theodor Waigel||16 November 1988||16 January 1999|
|6th||Edmund Stoiber||16 January 1999||29 September 2007|
|7th||Erwin Huber||29 September 2007||25 October 2008|
|8th||Horst Seehofer||25 October 2008||19 January 2019|
|9th||Markus Söder||19 January 2019||Present day|
|Fritz Schäffer||28 May 1945||28 September 1945|
|Hans Ehard (first time)||21 December 1946||14 December 1954|
|Hanns Seidel||16 October 1957||22 January 1960|
|Hans Ehard (second time)||26 January 1960||11 December 1962|
|Alfons Goppel||11 December 1962||6 November 1978|
|Franz Josef Strauss||6 November 1978||3 October 1988|
|Max Streibl||19 October 1988||27 May 1993|
|Edmund Stoiber||28 May 1993||30 September 2007|
|Günther Beckstein||9 October 2007||27 October 2008|
|Horst Seehofer||27 October 2008||13 March 2018|
|Markus Söder||16 March 2018||Present day|
|Election year||No. of
party list votes
party list votes
overall seats won
24 / 402
52 / 509
55 / 519
50 / 521
49 / 518
49 / 518
48 / 518
53 / 518
52 / 519
53 / 520
49 / 519
51 / 662
50 / 672
47 / 669
58 / 603
46 / 614
45 / 622
56 / 631
46 / 709
|Election year||No. of
overall seats won
8 / 81
7 / 81
7 / 81
8 / 99
10 / 99
9 / 99
8 / 99
5 / 96
|Election year||No. of
party list votes
overall seats won
104 / 180
64 / 204
83 / 204
101 / 204
108 / 204
110 / 204
124 / 204
132 / 204
129 / 204
133 / 204
128 / 204
127 / 204
120 / 204
123 / 204
124 / 180
92 / 187
101 / 180
85 / 205
Alf Mintzel (1975). Die CSU. Anatomie einer konservativen Partei 1945-1972. Opladen (in German).
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Parliamentary group: European People's Party Group
|Heads of government|
at the European Council