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The Christian Democratic Union of Germany (CDU; Christlich Demokratische Union Deutschlands) is a Christian democratic political party in Germany.

Along with its Bavarianmarker sister party, the Christian Social Union of Bavaria, the CDU forms the CDU/CSU grouping in the Bundestagmarker.

The leader of the party, Angela Merkel, is also the incumbent Chancellor of Germany. In the European Parliamentmarker, the CDU is a member of the European People's Party (EPP), and internationally it is a member of the International Democrat Union (IDU). The CDU is the largest political party in Germany, followed by the Social Democratic Party of Germany.

Party platform

The CDU is non-denominational, Christian-based, applying the principles of Christian Democracy and emphasizes the "Christian understanding of humans and their responsibility toward God." People adhering to any confessions and non-confessional people are allowed to be members of the CDU. The CDU's policies encompass derivatives from Political Catholicism and Catholic social teaching, political protestantism, as well as neoliberalism, fiscal conservatism and national conservatism. The CDU was the first proponent of the social market economy, although the party has adopted more liberal economic policies since Helmut Kohl's term in office as the Chancellor of Germany (1982-1998). In terms of foreign policy, the CDU commits itself to European integration and a strong relation with the USAmarker. In the European Union, it opposes the entry of Turkeymarker into the EU. It rather prefers a privileged partnership with Turkeymarker. Besides citing human rights violations, the CDU also believes that Turkey's unwillingness to recognize Cyprus as an independent, sovereign state goes against the demands of EU policy that its members must recognize one another. Domestically, the CDU emphasizes curtailing red tape and the preservation of cultural traditions.

Opponents of the CDU are the social democratic SPD, the socialist Die Linke and the center-left, environmentalist Bündnis'90/Die Grünen. The CDU has also governed with the SPD in grand coalition and in coalitions with the Bündnis'90/Die Grünen. The CDU rejects coalitions with The Left and right-wing extremist parties.The liberal FDP is the preferred partner of any CDU government since the CDU and FDP have most in common in terms of fiscal policy. The CDU, as a conservative party, supports stronger punishments of crimes, and supports involvement on the part of the Bundeswehr in cases of domestic anti-terrorism offensives, and natural catastrophes. In terms of immigrants, the CDU supports initiatives to integrate immigrants through language courses, and aims to further control immigration. Double citizenship should only be allowed in exceptional cases.

History

Party convention, Düsseldorf 1965
CDU was founded after World War II with many members of the former Centre Party, but with the goal to include not only Catholics, but also Protestants, in a common confessional, liberal and conservative party. One of the lessons learned from the failure of the Weimar Republicmarker was that the disunity of the democratic parties was one major reason for the rise of the Nazi Party. So people (parly from the German Resistance) founded a new party without predecessor and called it a "Union" (the term "Union" does not refer to trade unions, which are called "Gewerkschaften" in the German language). The first CDU-leader in Berlinmarker, Andreas Hermes was involved in the July 20 plot and was arrested by Nazi Germany as well als CDUs first leader and West Germany’s first chancellor Konrad Adenauer a former member of Centre Party. Other CDU representatives came from the DDP, the DNVP and DVP.

The CDU was the dominant party in West Germany for the first two decades following its establishment in 1949. Until 1963, it remained under the leadership of Konrad Adenauer. That year, Ludwig Erhard, the former minister of economics, succeeded Adenauer. Ludwig Erhard resigned as the Free Democratic Party withdrew from the governing coalition, mainly due to disagreements in fiscal and economic policy. Consequently, a grand coalition with the SPD took over government under Chancellor Kurt Georg Kiesinger (CDU).

However, the SPD gained popularity and formed a coalition with the FDP after the general election in 1969, and thus the CDU went into opposition until 1982. The FDP formed a coalition with the CDU in 1982 after its withdrawal from the social-liberal (SPD-FDP) coalition, which was primarily triggered due to disagreements in fiscal and economic policy with the SPD. Helmut Kohl of the CDU became the new Chancellor for West Germany in 1982, and his CDU-FDP coalition was confirmed in the general election in 1983. The German Bundestag elections in 1990, brought a clear victory for the CDU-FDP governing coalition under Chancellor Helmut Kohl, showing broad public support for the unification process.

After the downfall of East Germanymarker's government, West German chancellor Kohl, with the strong support of France, the United Kingdom and the United States, called for the reunification of Germany. On October 3, 1990, the German Democratic Republicmarker was abolished and its territory re-annexed to Germany. The East German CDU merged with its West German counterpart. The same year, elections were held for the reunified country. Although Kohl was reelected, the party lost much of its popularity thereafter because of an economic recession in the former GDR and a tax increase in the west. He won, however, by a narrow margin in the 1994 election, because of an economic recovery.

Helmut 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 remains the leader of the CDU and Chancellor of Germany to this day. In the 1998 general 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. Thus, a Red-Green coalition under Gerhard Schröder took power until 2005. In 2002, CDU reached 29.5% and the CSU 9.0%, which was an improvement over the last election, yet the result didn't give the mandate to a CDU/CSU-FDP majority necessary for taking over government from the Red-Green coalition led by Chancellor Gerhard Schröder.

In 2005 early elections were called after the CDU dealt the governing SPD a major blow, winning more than ten state elections, mostly with a landslide victory. A grand coalition between the CDU/CSU and SPD faced the challenge that both parties demanded the chancellorship. However, after three weeks of negotiations, the two parties reached a deal whereby Merkel would become Chancellor and the SPD would hold 8 of the 16 seats in the cabinet and receive a majority of the most prestigious cabinet posts. The coalition deal was approved by both parties at party conferences on November 14. Merkel was elected Chancellor by the majority of delegates (397 to 217) in the newly assembled Bundestag on 22 November.

Internal structure

Members

The CDU currently has 530,755 members (As of: July 28, 2008)

25.4 % of members are female and 74.6 % male. The female proportion is higher in the new East Germany states with 29.2 % compared to the former states in West Germanymarker with 24.8 %.

Before 1966 membership totals in CDU organization were only estimated. The numbers after 1966 are based on the total from December 31 of the previous year.

Data about state party group



State group Chairman Members
CDU state party group of Baden-Württembergmarker Stefan Mappus 79,000
Berlinmarker Frank Henkel 13,000
Brandenburgmarker Johanna Wanka 7,000
Bremenmarker Bernd Neumann 3,340
Hamburgmarker Michael Freytag 9,920
Hessenmarker Roland Koch 48,950
Mecklenburg-Vorpommernmarker Jürgen Seidel 7,000
Lower Saxonymarker David McAllister 55,752
North Rhine-Westphaliamarker Jürgen Rüttgers 185,000
Rhineland-Palatinatemarker Christian Baldauf 51.187
Oldenburgmarker Manfred Carstens 13,600
Saarlandmarker Peter Müller 22,000
Saxonymarker Stanislaw Tillich 15,000
Saxony-Anhaltmarker Thomas Webel 9,000
Schleswig-Holsteinmarker Peter Harry Carstensen 30,000
Thuringiamarker Christine Lieberknecht 13,000


Party strongholds

The traditional strongholds of the party are concentrated in rural and Catholic regions such as the Eifel, Münsterlandmarker, Sauerland, Fuldamarker district, Schwaben, Emslandmarker, Oldenburger Münsterland, Nordfrieslandmarker, Vorpommern as well as areas in Saxonymarker, the Thuringiamarker Eichsfeld, Taunusmarker, and smaller cities such as Baden-Badenmarker, Konstanzmarker, and Pforzheimmarker. There is less support in Bremenmarker, Brandenburgmarker, and East Berlinmarker.

Relationship with the CSU

Germany Day of Junge Union in Cologne, 1986
Both the CDU and the CSU originated after World War II and had the Christian perspective of humankind in common. In the Federal Parliament (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 youth organisation for CDU and CSU is common: Junge Union.

On issues of federal policies the CDU and CSU don't differ, but they remain legally and organizationally separate parties. The differences between the CDU and the somewhat more socially conservative CSU has sometimes led to conflicts 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 CSU has historic parallels to previous Christian Democratic parties in Germany, with the Catholic Centre Party as the national Catholic party in Germanymarker with the Bavarian People's Party as the local Bavarian variant.

Flag

There is now some, albeit sketchy, information about the history of CDU flags. This seems to be a very difficult story, as they obviously change their logo and their flag every four to five years or so. The last flag had been introduced around 1998. Recently the CDU introduced a new logo together with a whole new corporate identity (CI).

The main feature of the logo is, that it always has to be the same: a red inscription 'CDU' (new font) on a white rectangle of proportions 1:3. Any additional symbols (regional symbols) or text have to be outside the white rectangle. If shown on a coloured background this logo is usually shown on an orange field.

The flag is an orange field with the white rectangle at the bottom. The colours are defined in the CI as follows: orange RGB 255/153/0; red RGB 235/39/41.

Think-tank Konrad Adenauer Foundation

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 100 million Euro.

Special organizations

Notable suborganizations of the CDU are:

Chairpersons of the Christian Democratic Union, 1950-present



Parliamentary chairmen/chairwomen of the CDU/CSU group in the national parliament



German Chancellors from CDU



See also



References

Further reading

  • Hans-Otto Kleinmann Geschichte der CDU: 1945–1982. Stuttgart 1993, ISBN 3-421-06541-1


External links




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