Germany’s Christian Democrats
- Emma RosenbergEmma RosenbergKellogg Institute for International Studies, University of Notre Dame
The German Christian Democratic Party (CDU) and its sister party, the Christian Social Union in Bavaria (CSU), known collectively as the Union, were founded in the immediate aftermath of World War II as anti-materialist Christian responses to the atrocities of the war and as buffers to encroaching Communism and Fascism. The first Volkspartei, the CDU has served as a “catch-all” party since its inception, prioritizing its inter-confessional appeal to a diverse group of both Protestant and Catholic voters throughout Germany over ideology. Over seven decades, the CDU/CSU has enjoyed enormous success, by broadly adhering to core elements of a Christian understanding of self, promotion of a social market economy, focus on family, and a Western-focused European community. The CDU presided over the first post-war German government under long-serving Chancellor Konrad Adenauer, German reunification in 1990 under Chancellor Helmut Kohl, and European stability in the face of a refugee crisis under Chancellor Angela Merkel. The CDU has evolved from a chancellor’s party centered around charismatic leadership and antipathy to Ostpolitik, to the most successful German Volkspartei and a staunch bulwark of the European community.