Germany - Political parties

Party descriptions and CMP left-right scores
Party Type 90 94 98 02 05 09 Average
CDU/CSU Christian Democrat -9.9 26.8 27.9 22.6 25.4 8.7 16.9
SPD Social Democrat -31.2 -18.2 0.9 -4.6 -2 -18.3 -12.2
FDP Liberal 1.9 1.7 3.3 -6.1 16 4.3 3.5
Linke/PDS Communist -31.8 -28 -32.4 -29.9 -32.2 -24.5 -29.8
B90/GRÜ Ecologist -16 -20.3 -21 -24.7 -12.1 -13.6 -17.9

The table shows the periodical scores on left-right position as given in the Comparative Manifesto Project (Volkens, Andrea, et.al., 2010). The scores range from -100 (left) to +100 (right).

Type: Tentative grouping of political parties and alliances based on information provided in the Comparative Manifesto Project and from party descriptions in Europa World Yearbook, Encyclopædia Britannica and in election reports from the European Journal of Political Research and/or Electoral Studies.

CDU/CSU - The Christian Democratic Union - (Christlich-Demokratische Union/ Christlich-Soziale Union (CDU/CSU))

CDU is a centre-right party, founded in 1945 (federal party in 1950). Supports a free-market economy and social welfare programs but is conservative on social issues. Advocates united action between Catholics and Protestants for rebuilding German life on a Christian-Democratic basis, while guaranteeing private property and the freedom of the individual. The CDU has also been a strong advocate of European integration and has cultivated close relations with the United States while in government. After experiencing a major defeat in 1998, it returned to power in 2005. CSU, founded in 1946, is the sister party of CDU and it only operates in the state of Bavaria.

SPD - The Social Democratic Party of Germany - (Sozialdemokratische Partei Deutschlands)

Formed in 1863, SPD is the oldest party in Germany. It was originally a traditional socialist worker’s party,but after 1959 it was transformed into more of a “catch-all” party. It 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. Joined a grand coalition with the CDU/CSU after the election in 2005.

FDP - Free Democrats - (Freie Demokratische Partei)

The FDP was established in 1948 and is a centrist party that advocates individualism, capitalism, and social reform. Although it has captured only a small percentage of the votes in national elections, its support has been pivotal for much of the post-World War II period in making or breaking governments, by forming coalitions with or withdrawing support from larger parties. The FDP's support surged in 2005, when it won 10 percent of the vote and 61 seats in the Bundestag.

Linke/PDS - The Left - (Die Linkspartei/ Die Linke)

Formerly (1990–2005) Party of Democratic Socialism (<i>Partei des Demokratischen Sozialismus</i>, PDS). Political party that ruled East Germany as the Socialist Unity Party of Germany (SED) and now contests elections in united Germany. At the behest of the Soviet Union, the SED was formed in April 1946 through a merger of the German Communist and Social Democratic parties. In the wake of unification in 1989, the SED sought to resurrect itself, adopting a centrist name, the Party of Democratic Socialism (PDS). For the 2005 elections, the PDS allied with disillusioned members of the SPD and Green parties—who had established Electoral Alternative Labour and Social Justice (Die Wahlalternative Arbeit und soziale Gerechtigkeit) in western Germany—to form the Left Party, which captured 54 seats in the Bundestag.

B90/GRÜ - Alliance '90/The Greens - (Bündnis '90/Die Grünen)

Environmentalist party formed in 1980. The Green Party traces its origins to the student protest movement of the 1960s, the environmentalist movement of the 1970s, and the peace movement of the early 1980s. It became the prototype of all European Green parties, and aspired to be an alternative to the traditional parties. Die Grünen were part of the national coalition government between 1998 and October 2005. The 2005 election left the Greens at a crossroads, with the party part of no governing coalition at either the state or national levels for the first time in two decades and with Fischer, their longtime leader, retiring from public life.

Sources:

Germany, political parties. (2009). In Encyclopædia Britannica. Retrieved November 2009, from Encyclopædia Britannica Online.

Electoral Studies (Elsevier), election reports on Germany.

European Journal of Political Research (European Consortium for Political Research), reports on Germany.

Budge, I.; Klingemann, H.-D.; Volkens, A.; Bara, J.; Tanenbaum, E., with Fording, R.C.; Hearl, D.J.; Kim, H.M.; McDonald, M. and Mendez, S. (2001). Mapping Policy Preferences. Estimates for Parties, Electors, and Governments 1945-1998. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Klingemann, H.D.; Volkens, A.; Bara, J.; Budge, I.; McDonald, M. (2006). Mapping Policy Preferences II. Estimates for Parties, Electors, and Governments in Eastern Europe, the European Union and the OECD, 1990-2003. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Volkens, Andrea; Lacewell, Onawa; Regel, Sven; Schultze, Henrike; Werner, Annika (2010): The Manifesto Data Collection. Manifesto Project (MRG/CMP/MARPOR), Berlin: Wissenschaftszentrum Berlin für Sozialforschung (WZB): http://manifesto-project.wzb.eu/