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Chairperson Volker Kauder
Ideology Christian democracy
Liberal conservatism
Political position Centre-right
Seats in the Bundestag
310 / 630

CDU/CSU, unofficially the Union parties (German: Unionsparteien) or Union, is the political alliance of two political parties in Germany, the Christian Democratic Union of Germany (CDU) and Christian Social Union in Bavaria (CSU).

Both parties share a common parliamentary group in the Bundestag known as the CDU/CSU faction (CDU/CSU-Fraktion) or Union faction (Unionsfraktion). According to German Federal Electoral Law, members of a parliamentary group which share the same basic political aims must not compete with one another in any federal state.[1] The CSU is only organised and contests elections in Bavaria, while the CDU operates in the other 15 states of Germany. The CSU also reflects the particular concerns of the largely rural, Catholic south.[2]

Both the CDU and CSU are members of the European People's Party and International Democrat Union, and share a common youth organisation, the Young Union. Both parties sit in the European People's Party Group in the European Parliament.


Both the CDU and the CSU were established after World War II and share a perspective based on Christian democracy and conservatism, and hold the dominant centre-right position in the German political spectrum. The CSU is usually considered the de facto successor of the Weimar Republic era Bavarian People's Party, which itself broke away from the all-German Catholic Centre Party after World War I. The CDU's foundation however was the result of a major re-organisation of the centre-right political camp compared to the Weimar Republic. Though the CDU was largely built as the de facto successor the Catholic Centre Party, it successfully opened out to non-Catholic Christians, many of them affiliated with the German People's Party until 1933, and successfully asserted itself as the only major conservative party (outside of Bavaria) against initial competition from other Catholic, Protestant or nationalist conservative parties during the early years of the Federal Republic. However, the CDU was and still is significantly stronger in Catholic-dominated areas than in Protestant areas of Germany.

Political stances[edit]

On their political stances, the CDU and the CSU usually only differ slightly. The CSU is usually considered a bit more socially conservative (especially on family issues, e.g. the CSU favors providing infants' parents with compensation if they intend not to use the public day nursery system to work while the CDU favors public funding of day nurseries), Eurosceptic (in 1998, then-Chancellor Helmut Kohl of the CDU had to pressure the CSU intensely not to veto the introduction of the Euro in Germany) and regionalist (CSU politicians often make their mark as self-declared defenders of Bavaria's state rights and cultural independence from federal bureaucrats, even in times of conservative federal governments). While both parties officially identify themselves as non-denominational Christian, the Catholic influence on the CSU is far stronger than that on the CDU, since Bavaria is predominantly Catholic, while Christians in Germany as a whole are approximately equally balanced between Catholics and Protestants.


The differences between the CDU and the somewhat more socially conservative CSU have sometimes led to conflicts in the past. These tensions climaxed during the 1970s, when Helmut Kohl became CDU chairman in 1973, then considered a moderate or even progressive and also a personal foe of the right-wing then-CSU chairman Franz Josef Strauss, who had held that office since 1961.

Brief 1976 separation[edit]

After the CDU/CSU narrowly lost the West German federal election of 1976 which had seen Kohl as the common chancellor candidate of the two parties, the CSU's future Bundestag representatives met on November 19, 1976 at a closed meeting at Wildbad Kreuth, at a Hanns Seidel Foundation compound, which is CSU's educational foundation. With a vote of 30–18 and one abstention (and one invalid vote), the CSU deputies decided to separate from their common faction with the CDU deputies in the Bundestag. The decision had been initiated by CSU chairman Strauss, then himself a Bundestag deputy.

The official reasons were to create a more effective opposition (the CDU would approach moderate conservatives, while the CSU would approach the right) and gain more speaking time in parliament.

As a party chairman, Strauss also announced that the CSU as a party would also terminate its self-restriction to Bavaria and foster the foundation of local CSU associations outside of the party's home state, running in all future German federal and state election against the CDU on a distinctly more conservative platform than the CDU's. Strauss therefore coined the term Vierte Partei (fourth party, after the CDU, the Social Democrats and the Free Democrats). This term was technically misleading, since the CSU had always been a distinct party from the CDU, therefore four parties had already been represented during previous Bundestag terms.

On December 12, 1976, the vote was rescinded after the CDU had threatened in turn to form local associations within Bavaria and to run in Bavarian elections against the CSU.

Parliamentary chairpersons of the CDU/CSU group in the Bundestag[edit]

Federal Parliament (Bundestag)[edit]

Election year # of
constituency votes
# of
party list votes
 % of
party list votes
# of
overall seats won
+/– Govt?
1949 5,978,636 25.2
139 / 402
1953 9,577,659 10,016,594 36.4
249 / 509
Increase 82 Yes
1957 11,975,400 11,875,339 39.7
277 / 519
Increase 25 Yes
1961 11,622,995 11,283,901 35.8
251 / 521
Decrease 21 Yes
1965 12,631,319 12,387,562 38.0
251 / 518
Increase 1 Yes
1969 12,137,148 12,079,535 36.6
250 / 518
Decrease 1 No
1972 13,304,813 13,190,837 35.2
234 / 518
Decrease 15 No
1976 14,423,157 14,367,302 38.0
254 / 518
Increase 15 No
1980 13,467,207 12,989,200 34.2
237 / 519
Decrease 16 No
1983 15,943,460 14,857,680 38.1
255 / 520
Increase 17 Yes
1987 14,168,527 13,045,745 34.4
234 / 519
Decrease 17 Yes
1990 17,707,574 17,055,116 36.7
319 / 662
Increase 83 Yes
1994 17,473,325 16,089,960 34.2
294 / 672
Decrease 24 Yes
1998 15,854,215 14,004,908 28.4
245 / 669
Decrease 46 No
2002 15,336,512 14,167,561 29.5
248 / 603
Increase 3 No
2005 15,390,950 13,136,740 27.8
226 / 614
Decrease 10 Yes
2009 13,856,674 11,828,277 27.3
239 / 622
Increase 14 Yes
2013 16,233,642 14,921,877 34.1
311 / 630
Increase 61 Yes

See also[edit]


  1. ^ “Federal Electoral Law“ German Law Archive, accessed December 18, 2016
  2. ^ “Christian Democrat Union/Christian Social Union“ Country Studies, Germany, accessed December 18, 2016
  3. ^ (last visit: 30 September 2016)

External links[edit]