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Guten Tag! As you may have heard in the news, Angela Merkel will not be running for re-election as Bundeskanzlerin (Chancellor) of Germany in 2021 – nor will she be running to be elected as CDU party leader. She has been the German chancellor for almost 13 years, starting way back in 2005. So as this will no doubt be a hot news topic in the run-up to the next Wahl (election), here is an easy overview of all of the major political parties in Germany, so you can get a better idea of who’s who in German Politik (politics)!
Name in German: Christlich Demokratische Union Deutschlands (CDU)
Current party leader: Angela Merkel
Party colour: Schwarz (black)
Party focus: Centre-right. Conservative on social issues, but supports a free market economy & European integration. Calls itself die Volkspartei – a party for everybody, rather than one that caters to specific ideologies.
Main voter base: Traditionalists/conservatives; people in more Catholic regions; the older generation.
The CDU has die Schwesterpartei (sister-party) called CSU, which stands for Christian Social Union in Bavaria (Christlich-Soziale Union in Bayern). The CSU is unique in German politics, as it is the equivalent of the CDU but for Bavaria only. However, the CSU has been known to hold more conservative views than the CDU, so the parties do sometimes clash. There is a bit more about Bavarian politics in this post.
Name in German: Sozialdemokratische Partei Deutschlands (SDP)
Current party leader: Andrea Nahles
Party colour: Rot (red)
Party focus: Centre-left. Social democracy, protecting the poor via a welfare state.
Main voter base: Working class; people in more industrial regions; people in big cities, especially in the north and west of the country.
Name in German: Freie Demokratische Partei (FDP)
Current party leader: Christian Lindner
Party colour: Gelb (yellow)
Party focus: Centre-right. Liberals. Internationalism, civil/human rights, free enterprise, individual freedom.
Main voter base: The self-employed and business owners.
Name in German: Die Grünen / Bündnis 90
Current party leader: Annalena Baerbock / Robert Habeck.
Party colour: Grün (green)
Party focus: Centre-left. Environmental protection, economic and social sustainability.
Main voter base: Young people; people in university towns and cities; well-educated people; nowadays popular amongst over 35s, too.
Name in German: Alternative für Deutschalnd (AfD)
Current party leader: Jörg Meuthen/Alexander Gauland.
Party colour: Blau (blue)
Party focus: Right-wing/far-right. German nationalism, Eurosceptic, anti-immigration, anti-Islam.
Main voter base: Fairly diverse. People who are unhappy with the status quo, or with other party ideologies, often vote AfD.
Name in German: Die Linke / Die Linkspartei
Current party leader: Katja Kipping/Bernd Riexinger.
Party colour: Rot (red)
Party focus: Left-wing/far left. Wants to eradicate capitalism and put more government funding into education, research & culture.
Main voter base: This party is a direct descendent of the former East German governing party, the Sozialistische Einheitspartei Deutschlands (Socialist Unity Party), so its voter base consists mostly of supporters of the former GDR (East Germany), communists, social democrats, and people who are generally unhappy with the other, more traditional parties.
I hope this has been helpful!
Bis bald (see you soon)!
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