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(Christlich‐Demokratische Union, Christian Democratic Union)

A German political party founded in 1945 as a broad interdenominational Christian Democratic party. In Eastern Germany, it was subjected to Communist control by 1948, from which it only managed to liberate itself in 1990, when it emerged as the largest party from East Germany's first and last free national elections.

In West Germany (Federal Republic of Germany, FRG), together with its Bavarian sister party, the CSU, the CDU narrowly won the first national elections of 1949. The CDU/CSU won the 1953 elections with 49.9 per cent of the popular vote, and in 1957 they won an absolute majority (50.2 per cent), an unrivalled achievement. It provided West Germany's first three Chancellors: Adenauer, Erhard, and Kiesinger. During this time, the party put into practice the social market economy. This was a capitalist economic system in which the state actively regulates the framework in which market forces operate in an effort to minimize their negative side effects such as monopolies and the creation of social inequality. The CDU tied Germany politically and militarily to the West, as the FRG joined NATO in 1955 and took a lead in European integration from the 1950s. Defeated in the 1969 elections by the SPD, the CDU was led by Kohl from 1973, under whom the party ruled in coalition with the Liberal Party (1982–98).

The CDU has sought to be a ‘people's party’, representing all sections of society, though it has been traditionally strong in Roman Catholic and rural areas. It has been more popular among businessmen, the self‐employed, professionals, and white‐collar employees than among manual workers. From the 1998 elections onwards, the party polled below 40 per cent of the vote, which indicated the party's difficulties in integrating an increasingly heterogeneous population defined by concerns different from the party's original Christian, middle‐class values. Under the leadership of Angela Merkel, the party formed a grand coalition with the SPD in 2005.http://www.cdu.de.The official website of the CDU.

Subjects: Contemporary History (Post 1945).

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