German political parties

play in the political life a part definitely more important than in other countries like France and Switzerland. The referendum does not exist at the federal level and almost not at the regional level and the great parties, stable since , organizes the political life.


Legal situation

The existence and the role of the German political parties are envisaged by article 21 of of 1949. The same article provides that these parties will have "to respect the free and democratic structure of the German federal Republic". This provision allows prohibition by Bundesverfassungsgericht (constitutional court) of the political parties considered to be dangerous for the political system. This procedure was used in the years 1950 to prohibit it KPD and it SRP then without success in the years 2000 against . "anticonstitutional" movements (Verfassungswidrig), in particular the parties of extreme right-hand side and extreme left are the subject also of a monitoring by Verfassungschutz but contrary to the other organizations the political parties cannot be prohibited by the Minister of Interior Department.

Financing of the parties

Law on the financing of the political parties

The financing of the political parties is framed since 1967 by a particular legislation Parteiengesetz. In more of the gifts and contributions the German political parties recoivent an important financing on behalf of the State. To reach this financing a party must at least have collected 0,5 % of the voices to a national election or 1 % with a regional election. The amount of the subsidies is then calculated while being based on the number of voices obtained with the various elections and on the own resources available to the party. In all the case the public financing must remain below an absolute limit, fixed in 2005 to 133 million euros per annum.

Financial scandals

Like other countries of Europe, Germany was touched by several scandals related to the financing of the political parties. Largest of the recent scandals is the business of the financing of the CDU of in the years 1990 (CDU-spendenaffäre). The party had set up a system of financing of the election campaigns candidates chosen by Kohl by using gifts secret (and thus illegal) on Swiss accounts of banks. The exact origin of the money is still not known. Following the scandal , Wolfgang Schäuble and Brigitte Baumeister (the trésorière of CDU) had to resign their functions within the party (a purely honorary station in the case of the former chancellor). After having exhausted all the possible grounds for appeal CDU was finally condemned in 2004 by Bundesverfassungsgericht to refund 21 million euro of public financing of the election campaigns irregular.

Principal political parties

and in particular the system of the elections with (federal Parliament) led to the formation of two great parties of government (the CDU group and the SPD) at side of which several less important parties remain which play an important part while taking part in the coalitions (in particular the FDP and Greens). There are finally some small parties which obtain sometimes mandates in the regional Parliaments. These parties often defend a radical ideology (parties of extreme-right-hand side in particular) or represent a particular group (like GB/BHE) or a vote of protest. Lastly, it PDS, successor of SED, it single party occupies a special place, represented with The Bundestag since reunification but held with the variation of the capacity at the federal level by the other parties.

The election of half of the deputies with supports the two great parties however and avoids the parcelling out in many small parties and the formation of too unstable coalitions. The election of the remainder of the deputies with household a place for the other parties, which does not exist in the systems purely majority as in the United States or the United Kingdom. These small parties can be carrying a particular ideology (like the FDP or the Greens) or the interests of a restricted group (like GB/BHE and to a certain extent PDS).

Parties represented at the federal Parliament

  • (CDU) is the great party of right-hand side. Created after around the ideas of defended by it was regarded a long time as the party dominating of the German political life, it SPD taking part in the government only when CDU was weakened by an internal crisis or an important failure.
  • (CSU) is during in Bavaria, where this last party does not exist. Controlling the area without interruption since its creation, CSU is traditionally preserving as regards manners but was a long time carrying a certain social vision with regard to the economy.
  • (SPD), re-creation of an existing party since XIXE century, is the great party of opposition during the time following the creation of The Federal Republic of Germany. Several times at the head of a government in the years 1970 it seems to have taken a new dimension after the reunification. Ideologically in the beginning it evolved gradually to social-liberalism.
  • (FDP) is the party German. If it obtains only seldom direct mandates, it on the other hand always succeeded in forming a parliamentary group with The Bundestag and was in the years 1960 and 1970 in position to make and demolish coalitions.
  • was formed with the reunification by alliance enters Die Grünen (Greens), left resulting from the pacifist and antinuclear mobility of the years 1970 and Bündnis 90 grouping of militants of the humans right in . Faithful partner of the SPD in the years 1990, the German greens join however the parties of right-hand side in regional coalitions.
  • Partei of Demokratischen Sozialismus (PDS) is the successor of SED, it single party . Politically resolutely on the left, it is especially the party of all those in the East which did not find their account in reunified Germany. Initially exempted rule of 5 %, it then could form continuation twice a parliamentary group. But its failure to be extended to the West and its rather old electorate puts it in difficulty and it preserves representatives at the federal Parliament only thanks to two direct mandates in its bastions in the East of the country.
  • 'Linkspartei' : gathering of PDS, of WASG and of the members resulting from the cission from the left wing from the SPD. This new party Co-is directed by Oskar Lafontaine and Lothar Bisky. At the time of the legislative elections of 2005, it made a score of 25% in the lander of the east, and less than 5% in the west.
  • In spite of a strong parliamentary representativeness resulting from an elective system based on the proportional one, no representative of the extreme right-hand side managed to be made elect at the Parliament.

Parties represented in certain regional Parliaments

Beside the five parties represented with The Bundestag, which all is represented in several regional Parliaments, certain small parties have only some elected officials in one or the other of these Parliaments.

  • Südschleswigscher Wählerverband is the party of the Danish and Friesian minority of . Exempted rule of 5 %, it siége at the regional Parliament. Contrary to the majority of the regional parties of Europe it asserts neither autonomy any more nor independence.
  • Frieden, Arbeit, Kultur und Transparenz (FAKT) is a political party created by Jamal Karsli June 29, 2003 after its forced departure of the parliamentary group FDP at the Parliament of Land of , following a scandal started by its standpoint on the situation in the Middle East. FAKT particularly aims German resulting from immigration and regularly discusses topics like integration, the entry of in and it . Karsli is the chief of the party and its only elected official. FAKT since its creation was presented without success at communal elections but did not succeed in joining together a sufficient number of signatures of support to present a list at the European elections. The chances to make a success of its bet to become the third party in Rhineland-of-North-Westphalia at the time of the next elections in May 2005 consequently appear mean.
  • DVU (extreme-right-hand side)
  • is smallest and most radical of the parties of extreme-right-hand side. In 2004, with the favour of an alliance with DVU it obtains 9,2 % of the votes at the time of a regional election and enters to the Parliament of Land of .
  • WASG (Party of Work and Social Justice), left created in 2005 on the left SPD, a representative at the Parliament has of since the adhesion of Ulrich Maurer. Some members of the WASG present themselves on the lists of the PDS (Die Linkspartei.) with the federal election of September 18, 2005 from the point of view of a fusion of the two parties during the next legislature.

Other notable parties

Electoral results

The following table recapitulates the results with the federal elections since the creation of the Federal Republic of Germany of the five parties represented to the 16E The Bundestag.

Date 1949 1953 1957 1961 1965 1969 1972 1976 1980 1983 1987 1990 1994 1998 2002 2005
CDU 31,0 45,2 50,2 45,3 47,6 46,1 44,9 48,6 44,5 48,8 44,3 43,8 41,4 35,1 38,5 35,2
SPD 29,2 28,8 31,8 36,2 39,3 42,7 45,8 42,6 42,9 38,2 37,0 33,5 36,4 40,9 38,5 34,3
FDP 11,9 9,5 7,7 12,8 9,5 5,8 8,4 7,9 10,6 7,0 9,1 11,0 6,9 6,2 7,4 9,8
Bündnis 90/Die Grünen - - - - - - - - 1,5 5,6 8,3 5,0 7,3 6,7 8,6 8,1
Linkspartei/PDS - - - - - - - - - - - 2,4 4,4 5,1 4,0 8,7
Participation 78,5 86,0 87,8 87,7 86,8 86,7 91,1 90,7 88,6 89,1 84,3 77,8 79,0 82,2 79,1 77,7
  • CDU, SPD and FDP are presented at these elections since the beginning and always succeeded in being represented with The Bundestag.
  • At the time of the first three federal elections, several other parties obtained seats at the Parliament. Since 1961, only the five listed parties succeeded in being represented with The Bundestag.
  • The Vert party, created in the years 1970 is represented at the federal Parliament since 1983.
  • The PDS, created with the reunification, until now always succeeded in obtaining seats (exempted rule of 5 % in 1990 and thanks to its direct mandates in 1994 and 2002).

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