Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
Christian Democratic Union of Germany
The Christian Democratic Union (CDU - Christlich Demokratische Union) is a political party in Germany, founded after World War II by Konrad Adenauer among others. A moderate Christian party, the CDU is the biggest conservative political party in Germany. It is also a member of the International Democrat Union.
In Bavaria, the CDU does not exist; its role is played by the Christian Social Union (CSU). The CDU cooperates with the CSU at the federal level; although each party maintains its own structure, the two form a common caucus in the Bundestag and do not run opposing campaigns.
The CDU/CSU has adherents among Roman Catholics, Protestants, rural interests, and members of all economic classes. It is generally conservative on economic and social policy and more identified with the Roman Catholic, and to a lesser extent Protestant, churches than are the other major parties, although its programs are pragmatic rather than ideological. In 1990, it merged with the East German equivalent of the same name, the Christian Democratic Union.
Helmut Kohl served as chairman of the CDU from 1973 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. In the 1998 general election, the CDU polled 28.4% and the CSU 6.7% of the national vote. In 2002, CDU reached 29.5% and the CSU 9.0%. Opponents of the CDU are the social democratic SPD, the communist PDS and the environmentalist Bündnis'90/Die Grünen. The liberal FDP party is considered to be the natural partner of any CDU government. In the European elections of 2004 the CDU/CSU got 44% of the popular vote. Nationwide opinion polls taken in recent months have suggested that the CDU/CSU enjoy the support of nearly half the electorate.
The party was founded by Catholics, Protestants, and businesspeople who opposed communism and Nazism. Its first leader and West Germany’s first chancellor was Konrad Adenauer. The CDU was the dominant party with Adenauer as its leader from 1949 to 1963. Then in 1963, Ludwig Erhard, member of the CDU, succeeded Adenauer, proceeding a recession in 1966. This caused the CDU to wane in power and consequently form a coalition with the SPD. Kurt Kiesinger (CDU) then took power as chancellor of West Germany.
However, the SPD turned and formed a coalition with the FDP in 1969. The CDU thus lost its leadership position for the next 13 years. It was during this time that the CDU developed new conservative economic and foreign policies. The FDP in turn developed a new coalition with the CDU in 1982 due to a fall out with the SPD. By 1983, the CDU was back in power with its Helmut Kohl as the new Chancellor for West Germany. Its status was then shaken in the later half of the ‘80’s by an extreme right party called the Republikaner. The CDU was then saved in 1989 when the Berlin Wall fell and thus helped the CDU regain popularity. It was then that West Germany’s chancellor Kohl, with the strong support of the United States, called for the unification of Germany. On October 3rd, 1990, the German Democratic Republic of East Germany and the Federal Republic of West Germany sign a unification treaty. That same year, all of Germany since 1932 was able to partake in a national election. Although Chancellor Kohl was reelected, the party lost its majority and popularity. This was due to an economic recession in the eastern part and then a tax increase in the western part. He won again in the 1994 election.
According to the CDU's website, the party is nondenominational Christian based serving to "unite Catholics and Protestants, Conservatives and Liberals, proponents of Christian social ideals, and men and women from various regions, social classes, and democratic traditions." The CDU believes that mankind has a responsibility to God in upholding the Christian ideals and caring for the environment. Parts of these beliefs include supporting the freedom and dignity of all persons including equal rights among women, men, and the disabled. They also strive for a free and unified Germany along with integrating all European countries and strengthening the European Union. Members would also like to see democracy reign strongly in all European countries.
Chairmen of the Christian Democratic Union, 1950-present
- Konrad Adenauer 1950-1966
- Ludwig Erhard 1966-1967
- Kurt Georg Kiesinger 1967-1971
- Rainer Barzel 1971-1973
- Helmut Kohl 1973-1998
- Wolfgang Schäuble 1998-2000
- Angela Merkel 2000-
- Christian democracy
- Christian Social Union in Bavaria (CSU)
- Politics of Germany
- List of political parties in Germany
- Bundestag (Federal Assembly of Germany)
- Christian Democratic Parties
- Junge Union
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