German Center Party
|German Center Party|
|Party leader||Gerhard Woitzik|
|Secretary General||Christian Otte|
|Deputy Chairman||Adolf Robert Pamatat|
|Federal Treasurer||Andreas Erkes|
|founding||December 13, 1870|
|Place of foundation||Berlin|
|Headquarters||Straberger Weg 12
|Youth organization||Windthorstbund (former)|
|Number of members||600 (as of February 2012)|
|Minimum age||16 years|
The German Center Party (short name Zentrum , formerly Z and DZP ) is a German party . Until the end of the Weimar Republic in 1933, she was one of the most important parties in the German Reich as the representative of Catholic Germany and political Catholicism .
With the founding of the CDU as a non-denominational collection party, the center lost large parts of its electoral and membership base after the Second World War . Since the mid-1950s it has only been a small party to this day . The party bears the suffix oldest party in Germany - founded in 1870 because it appeared continuously under its name, while other parties (from 1861 the German Progressive Party as FDP predecessor or the SPD from 1863 in the form of the General German Workers' Association ) led changing party names.
Prehistory and foundation (until 1870)
The historic Center Party was the most important representative of political Catholicism in Germany. The politicization of the Catholic denomination was a long and sometimes contradicting process. Among the enlightened Catholic citizens, the Reichsdeputationshauptschluss of 1803, which also marked the end of the clerical principalities , began a return to Catholicism not only as a religion, but also as a structuring element of social and personal life. German Romanticism also contributed to the re-denomination.
The politicization of this development was decisively determined by several factors. One of them was the replacement of the Enlightenment theology by the ultramontane movement (strict orientation of the Catholic Church on Rome up to the papal infallibility dogma ). This development met with considerable distrust from both neo-absolutist German princes and liberals who were critical of religion . The conflict reached its first climax during the mixed marriages dispute of the 1830s. In the course of this, the Archbishop of Cologne, Clemens August Droste zu Vischering , was arrested in 1837 . These so-called “ Cologne turmoil ” triggered a previously unknown wave of protest and solidarity in Catholic Germany.
In the medium term, the contrast between Catholic Germany and the authoritarian state and liberalism was equally reflected politically. As early as the German National Assembly of 1848, the so-called Catholic Club was formed in the Paulskirche in Frankfurt , which was a loose association of Catholic representatives. It was a kind of intergroup and only focused on defending the rights of the church against the state. In 1852 a Catholic parliamentary group was formed in the Prussian state parliament , but it dissolved again in 1867. Catholic factions or faction-like associations were also founded in the state parliaments of the remaining German states.
The Soest Conferences, a loose discussion around the brothers Georg and Hermann von Mallinckrodt as well as Alfred Hüffer , Freiherr Wilderich von Ketteler , Friedrich Wilhelm Weber and Eduard Klein played an important role in the phase that was to lead to the establishment of the Center Party . The first meeting took place on January 12, 1864 in Soest , and further meetings followed at irregular intervals until the German War broke out in 1866 . The victory of Protestant Prussia and the ousting of the Austrian protective power of the Catholics in the Empire meant a setback for political Catholicism in Germany. Nonetheless, political Catholicism was no longer an exclusively academic project. Not least thanks to massive support from the local clergy, it began to become more and more attractive to Catholic voters. For the Catholic Sauerland, for example, the authorities reported an advance of the Catholic movement in the 1860s.
It was not until 1869, the year before the new elections for the Prussian House of Representatives , that plans for the establishment of a Catholic party were resumed. At meetings in Ahlen , Münster and Essen , a program designed mainly by Hermann von Mallinckrodt and Peter Reichensperger was adopted. It called for the independence of church institutions and the independence of the church. The denominational schools and the church school inspectorate should be retained. The establishment of a total German state should take place on a federal basis and the federal states should be given a relatively high degree of independence.
Approaches to the demand for a state social policy were already included in the Essen program of June 30, 1870: The existing financial burden on the people was to be achieved by foregoing further increases in the military budget and a fairer distribution of the tax burden and by eliminating the social grievances in the State can be worked towards. The “ Soester Program ” of October 28, 1870 finally achieved the greatest importance among the early program writings, as the leading forces behind the founding of the Prussian House of Representatives were elected on its basis. On December 13, 1870, 48 members of the Prussian House of Representatives founded the "Fraction of the Center", whose first chairman was Karl Friedrich von Savigny . In addition, Peter and August Reichensperger , Mallinckrodt , Ludwig Windthorst , Friedrich Wilhelm Weber and Philipp Ernst Maria Lieber were of great influence, as was Eduard Müller from Berlin.
Opposition and Kulturkampf (1870–1880)
From its self-image, the center was a party that stood in opposition to the Reich government under Bismarck. Neither Bismarck's economic policy orientation towards liberalism nor his attempt to suppress the political power of the church could be reconciled with the positions of the center. This also applied to the struggle of the new nation-state against its minorities, a large part of which, for example most of the Poles and Alsace-Lorraine, were Catholic.
Bismarck's struggle against political Catholicism shaped domestic politics in the first decade of the empire, as it sometimes seemed as if the Catholics were skeptical about the unification of the small German empire. A hitherto unthinkable coalition of conservatives , liberals and Bismarck had therefore taken up the cause of putting an end to the influence of the papacy and ultramontanism on German domestic politics via the detour of the Center Party and the clergy. While the Conservatives fought primarily against foreign influence, the Liberals saw the papacy as a hotbed of reaction. Indeed, the publication of the Syllabus errorum (on modern errors, including liberalism, 1863) and the First Vatican Council with the proclamation of the dogma of papal infallibility reinforced this impression. Bismarck viewed this as an interference with state sovereignty.
In order to divert attention from the economic difficulties during the “ Founding Crisis ” of the early 1870s, the Catholics were stylized as “ enemies of the Reich ” during the “ Kulturkampf ” . The mistrust was also fueled by the fact that the center in the Reichstag worked together with the minority parties of the Poles, Alsatians, Guelphs and Danes , who were also classified as "enemies of the Reich" , and thus also opposed Bismarck's policy.
The Kulturkampf did indeed have certain successes in secularization, such as the introduction of civil marriage and the establishment of municipal registry offices , but ultimately strengthened the cohesion and self-isolation of Catholic Germany to a large extent. Politically, he made a significant contribution to the internal consolidation of the center and its profile as a Catholic opposition to the Prussian-Protestant supremacy. In the Reichstag election in 1874 , at the height of the Kulturkampf, the center was able to increase its share of the vote to 28%. This proportion fell in the following decades. The center won between 90 and 106 mandates until the end of the empire.
The centre's success was due to its role as a Catholic milieu party. State pressure from outside, but also the political influence of the clergy, especially in the first few decades, contributed to the fact that a large number of Catholic voters voted for this party, largely regardless of their social or economic position.
Change to a party supporting the government and differentiation within the party (1880–1914)
After Bismarck's change of course from a liberal economic policy to protectionism , his state social policy, which was also enforced by the German Center, and the beginning of the fight against social democracy ( socialist laws ), the center slowly approached the Reich government. This was supported by the fact that between 1880 and 1887 a total of five mitigation and peace laws were passed to settle the culture war. The center emerged stronger from the Kulturkampf and from 1881 to 1912 it was the strongest parliamentary group in the Reichstag. In historiography, the decisive role of the German Center Party in the introduction of social insurance (initially without unemployment insurance) is often neglected.
Since Bismarck's dismissal in 1890, the denominational-Catholic aspect of the party withdrew in favor of an even stronger socio-political commitment. In particular, the Volksverein for Catholic Germany , which was founded in 1890 and had a large number of members , created an organization which, through countless educational lectures and brochures, as well as the socio-political work of the people's offices, made a significant contribution to the fact that the Center Party was finally given a socio-political profile and was able to retain many workers.
Under Bismarck's successors, the center supported government policy in the important fields of domestic, foreign, colonial and naval policy and had thus carried out the change from the opposition to the de facto ruling party, even though Catholics were often second-class citizens access to higher positions was denied as long as they did not speak out publicly against the center. At first sight, the center remained a stable political force during the Wilhelmine Empire. If you take a closer look, there were significant conflicts within the party. One of the factors that contributed to this was the fact that with the de facto end of the Kulturkampf a central unifying bond was lost. Since the 1890s in particular, different trends have developed. This includes, for example, a conservative-agrarian wing, as well as a “populist” wing, mainly supported by small farmers and craftsmen, a bourgeois wing and an increasingly strong workers wing. There were other contrasts, but they were partly connected with the social differences. While there can be no doubt about the party's "monarchist" attitude as a whole, there were considerable democratic tendencies, especially among the workers and the populist wing. Some of these conflicts were publicly fought out in the regions. After the death of Peter Reichensperger, for example, in the central stronghold of Sauerland, the party split in the Reichstag elections for more than 10 years due to the nomination of several candidates.
Industrial development also had a negative impact on the party in the long run. Even if the Catholic milieu did everything to bind the working-class voters (also politically), the center began to lose part of its voter potential, especially in the big cities and industrial areas. Here played secularization an important role. In the countryside and in small towns, of course, there was still no sign of this. In the Sauerland, for example - despite the division - around 90% always voted for the center. The stagnation at a high level was one of the reasons for considerations to turn the party into a people's party open to Protestants. The disputes about it in the so-called center dispute ultimately remained fruitless, so that the party continued to represent only the Catholic part of the people.
The realm of Alsace-Lorraine represented a special situation . Even if the population was almost 3/4 Catholic, the Catholic members of the Reichstag there represented autonomist positions and did not join the faction of the center. The Alsace-Lorraine Center Party was not founded until 1906 and became the strongest party in the Reichsland.
First World War and November Revolution (1914-1919)
During the First World War , the center also entered into the truce and supported the foreign and war policy of Wilhelm II and the Supreme Army Command (OHL). This went so far that the party effectively ceased its activities in some regions.
In the medium term, war fatigue also increased in the center. Therefore, in 1917, the center, together with the SPD and the Progressive People's Party , all three stigmatized outsiders during the German Empire, formed the Intergroup Committee . On July 19, 1917, he introduced a peace resolution to the Reichstag, which was adopted by a majority of the three parties. Given the de facto dictatorial power of the OHL under Paul von Hindenburg and Erich Ludendorff , the peace resolution, which aimed at the conclusion of a mutual agreement , had no direct impact, but it was the hour of birth of the later Weimar coalition . With Count Georg von Hertling , the center provided a Chancellor for the first time from November 1917 to September 1918 . After the parliamentarization of the Reich in the October reform of 1918, the center was represented by three state secretaries in Max von Baden 's cabinet .
The Center Party was generally hostile to the November Revolution of 1918. However, especially at the regional level, the question of the form of government “monarchy or republic” showed a considerable range of opinions. In some communities, local party leaders were also prominently represented in the workers 'and soldiers' councils. On the whole, however, the party was reluctant to “base on the facts”. Ultimately, however, she supported the republic that Philipp Scheidemann had proclaimed, despite internal party conflicts, and made contact with the former partners of the Intergroup Committee.
Weimar Republic (1919–1933)
The center played an important role in the Weimar Republic , as it had an important position in the political center in the party system. Although it was fundamentally capable of forming a coalition with almost all political groups from the SPD to the DNVP , it had, more than before, the problem of balancing out internal party differences. The former party leader and parliamentary group leader (1904–1930) in the Prussian state parliament, Felix Porsch, had a balancing effect in a central position . The center was therefore significantly involved in the governments of the Weimar Republic and in the Weimar National Assembly . The additional terms Christian People's Party and Christian Democratic People's Party , which were used from 1919 on, disappeared again after a short time.
She was involved in the governments of the Weimar Coalition ( SPD , Zentrum and DDP ), the Grand Coalition (SPD, Zentrum, DDP and DVP ) and the civic block (Zentrum, DDP, BVP , DVP and DNVP ) at both Reich and Länder level . As a result, it was represented in all imperial governments from 1919 to 1932 with brief interruptions and, with Constantin Fehrenbach (1920–1921), Joseph Wirth (1921–1922), Wilhelm Marx (1923–1925 / 1926–1928), Heinrich Brüning (1930– 1932) and Franz von Papen, who resigned shortly after his appointment (1932), five Chancellors. She provided various ministers, e.g. B. Theodor von Guérard was the Reich Minister of Justice , Reich Minister of Transport and Reich Minister for the occupied territories . In the 1925 presidential election, the center candidate Wilhelm Marx lost to Paul von Hindenburg .
Under party chairmen Erzberger (murdered by right-wing extremists on August 26, 1921) and Marx, the center stood firmly on the ground of the Weimar constitution and pushed ahead with securing the republic and expanding the welfare state. The center was largely responsible for the introduction of unemployment insurance. Since the mid-1920s, there has been a clear shift in the conservative and national camps. This development found its visible expression in the election of Ludwig Kaas , who prevailed against the Christian union leader Adam Stegerwald , as party chairman in 1928.
This election was also a reaction to the outcome of the 1928 Reichstag election . Not only in the big cities, but especially in rural and small-town areas, the party had lost considerable votes. A sub-group in the party was of the opinion that only reclericalization could prevent further bleeding.
In the wake of the Reichstag elections, the Center Party waged a fight against the KPD and the emerging National Socialists. The appointment of Brüning as the first Reich Chancellor of a Presidential Cabinet marked the center's final turn to conservative politics. With his deflationary and “rigorous austerity” policy, Brüning not only pursued the goal of reorganizing the Reich budget, but also wanted to demonstrate to the victorious powers of World War I that the German Reich was no longer economically able to meet the reparation obligations of the Versailles Treaty , and a deferral or even cancellation of the payments was therefore inevitable.
At the end of November 1931, concrete plans for overturning the Hessian NSDAP ( Boxheimer documents ) became known. However, Brüning downplayed the incident so as not to obstruct possible coalitions between the center and the NSDAP. Paul von Hindenburg banned the National Socialist organizations SA and SS out of well-founded fear of a coup on April 13, 1932, on the initiative of Groener and Brüning. However, the ban was lifted after only two months.
The last Reich Chancellor to belong to the center was Franz von Papen , who, however, had been in opposition to his own party together with the right wing wing since he stood up for Hindenburg in the 1925 presidential elections. With his resignation, which he declared two days after his appointment as Chancellor, he was before a party expulsion. The Center Party subsequently fought Papen's "Cabinet of National Concentration", also known as the Cabinet of the Barons.
With the separation of Danzig as the Free City of Danzig in 1920, the Center Party of the Free City of Danzig came into being , which was the ruling party there until the National Socialists came to power .
Party leader in the Weimar Republic
Period of National Socialism (1933–1945)
Under the impression of the arrests of the Reichstag deputies of the KPD and the threats against the Reichstag deputies of the SPD and the center, the faction of the center in the Reichstag approved Hitler's Enabling Act on March 23, 1933 after prior consultation with the NSDAP and thus helped him formally (after the arrest of the KPD members) to the required two-thirds majority .
Hitler had made some verbal promises to Kaas in order to secure his approval. For example, Hitler promised to preserve the rights of the Reich President, to allow the Reichstag and Reichsrat to continue, and not to regulate school policy and the relationship between state and religion through the Enabling Act. Above all, however, the hope of concluding a Reich Concordat with the Vatican has strongly influenced the opinion of the party leadership.
The party sought a closed takeover in the NSDAP faction in the form of an internship , but this refused. On May 5, 1933 Kaas , who was permanently in Rome , handed over the chairmanship of the party to Heinrich Brüning. He tacted cautiously and wanted to maintain the center by willingness to work with the NSDAP, but soon had to realize that the center could not be held either. Before the conclusion of the Reich Concordat draft of May 20, 1933 by Ludwig Kaas, which was criticized by Brüning , the party lost support in the Vatican and faced threats from the NSDAP and arrests of leading members. On June 28, 1933, Joseph Goebbels called on Brüning to “close his shop as quickly as possible”, otherwise the “experiments” of this party would no longer be watched. On July 2 or 3, 1933, Kaas telephoned the center politician Joseph Joos from the Vatican and asked him impatiently: "Haven't you dissolved?" Brüning mentions Ernst Grass and Karl Hettlage among them , the party dissolved on July 5, 1933 as the last of the so-called bourgeois parties. Finally, on July 20, 1933, the Reich Concordat was solemnly signed by Pacelli and von Papen in the Vatican . The successful conclusion of the Concordat with Mussolini had strengthened the Vatican's view that a Concordat was a far better solution for relations with Hitler than relying on Catholic political parties.
During the Nazi dictatorship , countless central politicians were discriminated against, imprisoned and killed in concentration camps. The persecution of center politicians ranged from high functionaries to simple members of the center party.
As early as 1933, the Osthofen concentration camp was filled with prisoners from among the members of the center. The Nazi dictatorship saw a danger in the Catholic Church and its political representation; because before the seizure of power, members of the NSDAP had been excluded from the sacraments by the Catholic bishops. The Catholic Church had expressly forbidden Catholics to support or vote for the NSDAP.
Since in 1935 the Catholic Church realized that the attempt made with the Concordat to protect the Catholic Church and the German Catholics had failed, more and more Catholics became activists who defended themselves National Socialist system, including many believers who had previously been members of the center. Numerous central politicians subsequently organized themselves underground to resist the Nazi dictatorship.
As a result of the assassination attempt on July 20, 1944 , even more members of the former center became targets of Nazi persecution during the action grid . The former center politician Franz von Galen - brother of the Catholic bishop and Nazi opponent Clemens August Graf von Galen - was deported to a concentration camp .
Post-war period (1945–1959)
After the war, the center was re-established because the newly formed CDU steered a course that was perceived as too right-leaning: The center party was socio-politically left-wing and, for example, rejected rearmament. On the other hand, it was less liberal, namely more confessional in cultural policy. However, the party had lost its function as a Christian-Catholic people's party because the CDU was conceptually a joint party of both major denominations. The center only had regional strongholds for a time, especially in North Rhine-Westphalia and Emsland ( Lower Saxony ). The Catholic bishops Conrad Gröber and Joseph Frings in particular preferred a Christian party of both denominations after the end of the war and turned away from the previous support for the Center Party.
Rudolf Amelunxen vom Zentrum was the first Prime Minister of North Rhine-Westphalia from 1945 to 1947 . The party was represented in the North Rhine-Westphalian state parliament and in the state government there until 1958 . After the phase of all-party governments , the center was initially involved in the government of Karl Arnold . In 1956 it left the government together with the FDP and together with them and the SPD formed the new cabinet under the Social Democrat Fritz Steinhoff .
In addition, two members of the Center Party were members of the Parliamentary Council . Ten MPs from North Rhine-Westphalia were represented in the first German Bundestag , since at that time the five percent threshold only applied to each country. In the 1953 federal elections, the CDU refrained from running a direct candidate in the Oberhausen constituency and supported the center. Since at that time a basic mandate was sufficient to override the five percent hurdle, three MPs for the Center Party moved into the second Bundestag, one of which was the CDU MP who had renounced the direct mandate. The DZP thus provided two MPs. Konrad Adenauer offered the DZP to include them in the government coalition; however, the Center Party refused.
The center of the young Federal Republic was dominated by former left DZP members from the Weimar Republic . The DZP spoke out against Ludwig Erhard's economic reforms and underlined the “necessity of an economy systematically controlled by the state”. The members of the Bundestag and the party leadership of the DZP spoke out in the second Bundestag against “any kind of remilitarization ”.
Until 1959, MPs from the Center Party also sat in the Lower Saxony state parliament. In the Emsland they relied primarily on the dwindling rural underclass of hiring workers , traditional center voters and young voters who rejected any cooperation with former National Socialists and their allies at the time. However, more and more voters went to the CDU, in the Ruhr area also to the SPD.
In the mid-1950s, Helmut Bertram tried to organize a broad-based alliance of Christian-oriented small parties for the 1957 federal election on behalf of the Central Executive Committee in order to offer disappointed CDU / CSU voters an alternative. However, it was only possible to get the Bavarian Party and the DP split-off Deutsch-Hannoversche Party on board. The candidacy under the name Federal Union , which had already been used for the parliamentary group in the first legislative period of the Bundestag, was only successful in North Rhine-Westphalia (center), Lower Saxony (center / DHP) and Bavaria (BP). The result of the FU was disappointing nationwide at 0.9%.
Party leader after the Second World War
Group leader in the German Bundestag
From 1949 to 1951, the center formed an independent parliamentary group. From 1951 to 1953 there was a parliamentary group of the center with the Bavarian party under the designation Federal Union . Hermann Clausen , the only member of the SSW , also joined the parliamentary group on January 24, 1952 . From 1953 to 1957, the center was only represented by three members in the Bundestag. The party has not held seats in the Bundestag since 1957.
|1951-1953||Hugo Decker||Bavaria Party|
Center as a micro-party (since 1960)
As early as July 22, 1956, the center had merged with the Christian People's Party of Saarland to form the Christian People's Party (CVP), but the merger was dissolved in April 1957 when the CVP joined the CSU. In 1965 the center reunited with the CVP's successor, the Saarland People's Party , to form the CVP. In the 1965 Bundestag election , this CVP received 0.1% of the vote, after which the center left the merged party.
For the 1969 Bundestag election , the center ran again alone and, with 15,933 voters, achieved a share of 0.05% of the vote. For the first European elections in 1979 , the party ran nationwide and won 31,367 votes (0.11%). In the 1984 European elections she received 93,921 votes or 0.38%. In 1987 she ran for the first time since 1969 in a federal election and received 19,035 votes (0.05%).
The Christian fundamentalist wing under Adelgunde Mertensacker split off from the center in 1987 after it had been voted out of office as federal chairman and replaced by former member of the Bundestag Gerhard Ribbeheger , and founded the Christian Center . Also in 1987, parts of the party with the Christian Party for Life (CPL) split off under Josef Ripsam in 1985, founded the Christian League - The Party for Life (LIGA). In 1995 this merged with the Christian Party of Germany , which in 2002 rejoined the Center Party.
In the 1980s and 1990s, the center focused on local politics in its post-war democratic-social tradition. Christian foundations played only a minor role, if at all. In 1989 for the third European elections, the election result fell again to 41,190 votes or 0.15%. As a result, the center did not run in the next federal election in 1990. For the election of the 13th Bundestag in 1994, 3757 voters chose the center with their second vote. In the 1998 federal elections, the center only ran direct candidates. In the European elections the following year, too, the center achieved a very low approval rate of 0.03% with 7,080 votes.
From the end of 2006 to October 29, 2007, there were concrete discussions about a merger with the Party of Biblical Christians (PBC) under a new common name. However, these discussions were ended by a resolution of the Federal Executive Committee of the Center Party. The PBC also had reservations about merging with another party and, in particular, about changing the party name and the election campaign strategy.
The Center Party took part in the Hamburg state election in February 2008 under the leadership of the former Interior Senator Dirk Nockemann (formerly Schill Party and CDU), Peter-Alexander von der Marwitz (formerly Schill Party), Norbert Frühauf (formerly CDU and Schill Party) and Klaus Wieser (formerly the STATT party). The presenter Eva Herman was offered a candidacy. 0.1% of the votes cast were achieved.
In connection with the failed attempt to merge with the party faithful to the Bible and the controversial election campaign of the Hamburg regional association, there were differences in the federal executive committee, in which the federal chairman sided with the Hamburg regional association. As a result, the board of directors of the Bavarian State Association and some members of the Center Party resigned on November 25, 2007. In the aftermath of the controversial federal party congress of 3./4. In October 2008 there were internal party disputes at the beginning of 2009, which did not come to an end for more than two years and were also carried out in court.
From 2009 to 2011 it was controversial whether Alois Degler or Gerhard Woitzik was chairman of the party. Finally, a federal party congress was scheduled for February 19, 2011, during which the election of a new federal executive took place: Gerhard Woitzik was elected as the new federal party chairman and Alois Degler as his second deputy. Ewald Jaksch left the party congress indignantly and organized a parallel meeting at which he was elected chairman with 12 votes by some loyal followers. In February 2012, the Düsseldorf Regional Court declared Jaksch's election to be invalid. In May 2012 Jaksch founded the short-lived “New Center Party - For Truth, Freedom and Law”, of which he was elected chairman.
In 2017, the center achieved 0.04% in the state elections in North Rhine-Westphalia . Candidates for the 2017 Bundestag election and the 2019 European election failed due to the number of support signatures.
Party leader since 1969
- 1969–1974 Gerhard Ribbeheger
- 1974–1986 Gerhard Woitzik
- 1986–1987 Adelgunde Mertensacker
- 1987–1996 Gerhard Ribbeheger
- 1996–2009 Gerhard Woitzik
- 2009–2011 Alois Degler or Gerhard Woitzik (controversial)
- since 2011 Gerhard Woitzik
Today's situation: program and structure
Current orientation of the party
To this day, the center is a Christian, socially, conservatively oriented small party in Germany. According to the unanimous statement of all wings and board members of the party, the goals are to maintain and expand the “free-democratic basic order”, to promote a worldwide peace policy and to create a Europe that is socially balanced and built up as a confederation of independent states the guiding principle "in the awareness of his responsibility before God and man", which is taken from the preamble of the Basic Law (GG).
The Center Party sees itself as a party that rejects any radical tendencies, both from the right and from the left. The program should be balanced in terms of content, value-oriented and differentiated. The program is based on the new basic program adopted on October 4, 2008. Unlike in the past, the party's members are no longer exclusively Catholic . The center was a member of the European party European Christian Political Movement (ECPM).
The Center Party is against all forms of abortion . She is involved outside of her actual political work and election campaign work as part of the right to life movement and sometimes uses provocative methods.
Today the center is represented with one mandate each in the district assemblies of the Rhine district of Neuss and the district of Cloppenburg . In Dormagen it has three, in Kaarst and Cloppenburg one each on the city council. The party also has four seats on the Molbergen municipal council . The seats in the city councils of Mönchengladbach and Neuss were lost in 2014 , the seats in the city council of Meerbusch with the 2020 election .
|Secretary General||Christian Otte|
|executive Director||Thomas Hebben|
Furthermore, according to the statutes, the Federal Executive Committee of the Center Party also includes the chairmen of the individual regional associations.
Regional associations and their chairmen
There are currently two regional associations. The state association of North Rhine-Westphalia was created on May 10, 2008 through the merger of the two state associations of Rhineland and Westphalia-Lippe. In addition, with Rastatt , Reutlingen , Stendal , Calw , Düsseldorf and Cloppenburg - Vechta there are a total of six district associations as a joint district association.
(as of November 14, 2018)
|Lower Saxony||Udo beginning|
|North Rhine-Westphalia||Christian Otte|
Election results in the German Empire
Election results in the Weimar Republic
|year||Share of votes||Seats|
Election results in the Federal Republic of Germany
In 1961 and 1965, between 1972 and 1983, as well as 1990, 2013 and 2017, the party did not stand for the Bundestag election.
|year||Number of votes||Share of votes||Seats|
After the Second World War, the center ran for elections in some of the West German federal states, most frequently in North Rhine-Westphalia, where it also entered the state parliament in 1947, 1950 and 1954. In the eastern German states of Brandenburg , Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania , Saxony , Saxony-Anhalt and Thuringia , but also in Bavaria , Berlin , Bremen , Hesse and the Saarland , the party did not take part in any state elections. The following table only takes into account the state parliament or citizenship elections to which the German Center Party stood.
* Direct candidates only
European election results since 1979
In 1994 and since 2009, the center did not stand in the European elections.
|European election results|
|year||Number of votes||Share of votes||Seats|
Reich Chancellor with party membership in the Center Party
The following politicians were members of the center as Reich Chancellors .
|Georg von Hertling||November 1, 1917 to September 30, 1918|
|Constantin Fehrenbach||June 25, 1920 to May 4, 1921|
|Joseph Wirth||May 10, 1921 to October 22, 1921,
October 26, 1921 to November 14, 1922
|Wilhelm Marx||November 30, 1923 to May 26, 1924,
June 3, 1924 to January 15, 1925,
May 17, 1926 to December 17, 1926,
January 19, 1927 to June 12, 1928
|Heinrich Brüning||March 30, 1930 to October 7, 1931,
October 9, 1931 to May 30, 1932
|Franz von Papen||June 1, 1932 to November 17, 1932
(left the Center Party on June 3, 1932)
Center Party before 1945
- Paul Majunke : History of the Kulturkampf in Prussia-Germany. Printing and publishing house Ferdinand Schöningh, Paderborn, 1890.
- Herbert Lepper : People, Church and Fatherland. Calls for elections, calls, statutes and statutes of the center; 1870-1933; a collection of sources on the history of the Rhenish and Westphalian Center Party in particular. Düsseldorf 1998.
- August Leugers-Scherzberg, Wilfried Loth (editor): The center faction in the constituent Prussian state assembly. Meeting minutes (= sources on the history of parliamentarism and political parties, 3rd series, volume 8). Düsseldorf 1994.
- Josef Traumann: Organization manual for center voters. A basic compilation of the most important organizational regulations of the Center Party. Hildesheim 1925 (2nd extended edition).
Monographs and edited volumes
- Margret Lavinia Anderson: Windthorst. Central politician and opponent of Bismarck (= research and sources on contemporary history, Volume 14). Düsseldorf 1988.
- Hans-Georg Aschoff: Welfish Movement and Political Catholicism 1866–1918. The German-Hanoverian party and the center in the province of Hanover during the German Empire (= Contributions to the History of Parliamentarism and Political Parties, Volume 83). Düsseldorf 1987.
- Karl Bachem : Prehistory, history and politics of the German Center Party . Cologne 1932 (9 volumes).
- Winfried Becker (Ed.): The minority as middle. The German Center Party in the Domestic Policy of the Reich 1871–1933 (= contributions to research on Catholicism, Series B: Treatises), Paderborn / Munich / Vienna / Zurich 1986.
- Helga Grebing : Center and Catholic Workers 1918–1933. A contribution to the history of the center in the Weimar Republic. Diss. (MS), Berlin 1953.
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