This is the first in a series of posts on German Politics. (Yikes thats two series at the same time!)
The German Parliament has two houses the Bundresrat (Upper House representing the Bundesland) and the Bundestag (Lower House). The party system has been dominated by the Christian Democratic Union (CDU) and the Social Democratic Party of Germany (SPD).
The current government is a grand coalition of the CDU/CSU and the SPD. The current Cabinet is as follows:
- Federal Chancellor:
Dr. Angela Merkel (CDU)
- Federal Foreign Minister and Vice-Chancellor :
Dr. Frank-Walter Steinmeier (SPD)
- Federal Minister for Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety:
Sigmar Gabriel (SPD)
- Federal Minister of Economics and Technology:
Michael Glos (CSU)
- Federal Minister of Defence:
Dr. Franz Josef Jung (CDU)
- Federal Minister for Family Affairs, Senior Citizens, Women and Youth:
Dr. Ursula von der Leyen (CDU)
- Federal Minister for Special Tasks and Head of the Chancellery:
Dr. Thomas de Maizière (CDU)
- Federal Minister of the Interior:
Dr. Wolfgang Schäuble (CDU)
- Federal Minister of Education and Research:
Dr. Annette Schavan (CDU)
- Federal Minister of Health:
Ulla Schmidt (SPD)
- Federal Minister of Food, Agriculture and Consumer Protection:
Horst Seehofer (CSU)
- Federal Minister of Finance:
Peer Steinbrück (SPD)
- Federal Minister of Labour and Social Affairs:
Olaf Scholz (SPD)
- Federal Minister of Transport, Building and Urban Affairs: Wolfgang Tiefensee (SPD)
- Federal Minister of Economic Cooperation and Development: Heidemarie Wieczorek-Zeul (SPD)
- Federal Minister of Justice:
Brigitte Zypries (SPD)
CDU/CSU The Union
The Christian Democratic Union and Christian Social Union of Bavaria define themselves as sister parties and form a common grouping in the Bundestag called (informally) “the Union”. On issues of national importance and in national election campaigns the CDU and CSU closely coordinate their activities, but they remain legally and organizationally separate parties. The differences between the CDU and the somewhat more conservative CSU sometimes lead to friction between them. The relationship of CDU to CSU has historic parallels to previous Christian Democratic parties in Germany, with the Catholic Centre Party as the national Catholic party in Germany with the Bavarian People’s Party as the local Bavarian variant. The CDU is member of the European Peoples Party (as does Fine Gael!)
The Social Democratic Party of Germany is Germany’s oldest political party and its largest in terms of membership. The SPD advocates the modernization of the economy to meet the demands of globalization, but it also stresses the need to address the social needs of workers and society’s disadvantaged.
The Free Democratic Party is a liberal political party in Germany. The party’s ideology combines beliefs in individual liberty, in a state or government “that is as small as possible and as large as necessary.” It promotes a market economy, with traditional features of the German social welfare system. The FDP is currently the third-largest party in the Bundestag.
Die Linke (The Left) is a German political party that came into being on 16 June 2007 as a merger of The Left Party.PDS and Labour and Social Justice – The Electoral Alternative (WASG). Die Linke aims for democratic socialism, which differs from the definition given by the SPD. In accordance to socialist tradition, the capitalist system of Germany is questioned as well as current neoliberal concepts. As a platform of left politics in the wake of globalization, The Left includes many different factions, ranging from communists to left-leaning social democrats.
Bündnis 90/Die Grünen
The Alliance ’90/The Greens, the German Green party, is a political party in Germany whose regional predecessors were founded in the late 1970s as part of the new social movements. The party was formally inaugurated on the weekend of January 17-18, 1980, by 1,000 delegates to its first convention in Karlsruhe, West Germany, as “Die Grünen”. It is one of the oldest, although not the oldest, and so far the most politically successful of the world’s many green parties. In 1989 and 1990 numerous civil rights groups in East Germany combined to form Bündnis 90, which merged with “Die Grünen” in 1993.