Union (politics)

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Logo of the CDU
CSU Logo since 2016.svg
Logo of the CSU

Union or union parties is the term used in Germany for the two sister parties CDU and CSU as a whole. In the German Bundestag they form a joint parliamentary group , the CDU / CSU parliamentary group , also known as the Union parliamentary group .

The two parties are legally, financially, organizationally and programmatically completely separate. The CSU does not participate in elections outside of Bavaria, the CDU is not active in Bavaria. Nevertheless, there are joint (nationwide) organizations, such as the Junge Union .

Countries where the Union parties in the state parliament are
  • represented as opposition party in the state parliament
  • involved in the state government as a small coalition partner
  • participates in the state government as a major coalition partner and provides the head of government
  • Programmatic differences between the CDU and CSU lie mainly in the fact that the CSU is more conservative in domestic, legal and social policy and more social in economic and social policy.

    What separates and what in common

    CDU and CSU are two independent parties. The CDU has 17 regional associations in 15 countries, but no regional association in Bavaria. The CSU, on the other hand, has no regional association outside of Bavaria. The same applies to the party structures at the local level. In local and state elections , the CDU competes with the respective CDU candidate in the 15 countries, while the CSU only presents candidates in Bavaria. The Union politicians Christian Schuchardt (Würzburg) and Oliver Junk (Goslar) are or were each member of a dissenting party.

    Even at the federal level, the parties as such are organizationally separated from one another: The federal CDU party only exists with reference to the 15 states. As a result, the CDU only submits state lists in the 15 states in Bundestag and European elections, the CSU only in Bavaria.

    It looks more differentiated with the implementation of the election campaign at the federal level. The CDU and CSU always announce a joint leading candidate (for the Bundestag: Chancellor candidates). Most of the time, but not always, there was also a joint election manifesto for both parties. The CSU can emphasize its independence through its own election program, especially if there are personal or programmatic differences of opinion with the CDU. The CSU is also free to choose whether to invite CDU candidates to Bavarian election events or to show CDU faces on their CSU posters.

    In organs at the federal level or at the European level, the parties always appear together. In the Bundestag CDU and CSU together form a parliamentary group, in the European Parliament together a CDU / CSU regional group. CDU and CSU negotiate coalitions together and participate in federal governments: if there are CDU ministers, there are also CSU ministers.

    The Union and Franz Josef Strauss

    The bond between the CDU and the CSU was by no means always firm: At the time of the CSU party chairman Franz Josef Strauss , the Kreuther decision to split the CSU came in 1976 to dissolve the joint parliamentary group in the 8th Bundestag that had existed since 1949 . The aim of the CSU was to get more speaking time in parliament .

    In previous years, “CSU groups of friends” had already formed in the German states outside Bavaria . to the Action Group Fourth Party (AVP). Support for the AVP was given up again by the CSU at the insistence of the CDU. The AVP withdrew its candidacy three weeks before the 1976 federal election . After the election, Strauss threatened to found a " fourth party " again, motivated by the poor performance of the CDU and a result of 60% for the CSU in Bavaria . But he dropped this thought after the CDU threatened to appear in Bavaria.

    In mid-1979, the election of a candidate for chancellor for the 1980 Bundestag elections became the next ordeal for the Union. Strauss made himself a candidate in May, while the CDU named Ernst Albrecht as a candidate a little later . A vote on July 2, 1979 gave Strauss a narrow majority; he had once again threatened the “Fourth Party”.

    In his “ Brandrede von Sonthofen”, Strauss warned the Federal Republic of a major crisis. He criticized the social-liberal coalition and especially the FDP . Against the background of the German Autumn , he also warned the issue of terrorism . The counteraction of the “left” was called Stop Strauss and was a popular motif for badges back then, also in Bavaria.

    The Union after 1980

    The 1980 election was lost for the Union parties; many voters switched to the FDP. For Strauss this meant the end of his national political ambitions. For the opposition leader of the CDU Helmut Kohl , on the other hand, this was the chance to establish his own national policy. He brought the Union closer to the FDP and finally came in 1982, after the FDP left the coalition with the SPD, by a vote of no confidence in the office of Chancellor .

    The Union parties won the following four federal elections, 1983 , 1987 , 1990 and 1994 .

    In 1998 , after sixteen years of government, a renewed coalition of the Union parties and the FDP did not come about due to the majority in the newly elected German Bundestag. The three parties formed the opposition in the German Bundestag (together with the PDS until 2002) until the 2005 Bundestag election. From 2005 to 2009 the Union parties formed a grand coalition with the SPD , while in the 17th Bundestag they again formed a coalition with the FDP.

    After the 2013 federal election, which resulted in the previous coalition partner FDP leaving the German Bundestag and in which the Union parties only narrowly missed an absolute majority, they now had another option in addition to a new edition of the grand coalition with the black-green coalition , to rule. In December 2013, however, after long negotiations, the grand coalition was reissued.

    Angela Merkel (CDU) has headed the respective federal governments as Federal Chancellor since November 2005 .

    Joint federal election results

    Results of the union in the federal elections 1949–2017
    Joint federal election results
    year Number of votes Share of votes Seats Chancellor candidate
    1949 07,359,084 31.0% 139 Konrad Adenauer
    1953 12,443,981 45.2% 249 Konrad Adenauer
    1957 15.008.339 50.2% 277 Konrad Adenauer
    1961 14,298,372 45.3% 251 Konrad Adenauer
    1965 15,524,068 47.6% 251 Ludwig Erhard
    1969 15.195.187 46.1% 250 Kurt Georg Kiesinger
    1972 16.806.020 44.9% 234 Rainer Barzel
    1976 18,394,801 48.6% 254 Helmut Kohl
    1980 16,897,659 44.5% 237 Franz Josef Strauss (CSU)
    1983 18,998,545 48.8% 255 Helmut Kohl
    1987 16,761,572 44.3% 234 Helmut Kohl
    1990 20,358,096 43.8% 319 Helmut Kohl
    1994 19,517,156 41.4% 294 Helmut Kohl
    1998 17,329,388 35.1% 245 Helmut Kohl
    2002 18,482,641 38.5% 248 Edmund Stoiber (CSU)
    2005 16,631,049 35.2% 226 Angela Merkel
    2009 14,658,515 33.8% 239 Angela Merkel
    2013 18.165.446 41.5% 311 Angela Merkel
    2017 15,315,576 32.9% 246 Angela Merkel
    2021 Armin Laschet


    • Jochen Blind: The home game of the “European parties”? The European election campaigns of the Union from 1979 to 2009 (=  Research ). Springer VS, Wiesbaden 2012, ISBN 978-3-531-19354-0 .
    • Hans-Peter Schwarz (ed.): The parliamentary group as a power factor. CDU / CSU in the German Bundestag from 1949 to the present day. Pantheon, Munich 2009, ISBN 978-3-570-55107-3 ( review ).

    Individual evidence

    1. Party and parliamentary group - tasks and differences
    2. ^ Basic program of the CDU in Germany
    3. Basic program of the CSU in Bavaria statutes (PDF)
    4. ^ Results of the Bundestag elections . In: Wahlrecht.de . Retrieved September 24, 2017.
    5. ^ Final result of the federal election on September 22, 2013 , wahlrecht.de. Retrieved September 26, 2017.
    6. Bundestag election on September 24, 2017 (preliminary result) . In: Wahlrecht.de . Retrieved September 24, 2017.


    1. The CDU is only active in 15 states in the Federal Republic of Germany, but has 17 regional associations, as there are three independent regional CDU associations in the state of Lower Saxony.

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