- CDU/CSU (Black/Blue): actually a political grouping of two parties, known generally as "The Union", the latter is essentially a Bavarian version of the former and they do not stand against each other, but there are policy differences. The Christlich Demokratische Union (Christian Democratic Union) is a Christian Democratic Party. Not quite the same thing as a conservative party- you will get one or the other in Europe, but not both- it is a non-denominational party, which opposes Turkey entering the EU. Its leader Angela Merkel is the current Chancellor. Chancellor Number 8, she is the first female Chancellor and the first "Ossie" (former East German) in that role. Four other chancellors also were in the CDU: Konrad Adenauer (first chancellor; "the old one", being almost 90 years old when he retired), Ludwig Erhard (the fat one with the cigar; very successful in building up the economy after the war, less successful as chancellor), Kurt Georg Kiesinger (the "silver-tongued one" who was once a member of the NSDAP and made a grand coalition with the SPD), Helmut Kohl (the really big one, united Germany, favorite target for jokes, parodies, caricatures, and so on- his surname means "cabbage").
- Is currently leading the government in a coalition with SPD.
- SPD (Red): Social-Democrat party. Once a real left party, they gradually scrapped the Socialist ideas (as did Labour in Britain under Tony Blair). Three chancellors were in the SPD so far: Willy Brandt (made the famous Ostverträge - treaties with the East and also commissioned the Brandt Report on the North-South divide), Helmut Schmidt, and Gerhard Schröder (cigar-smoking "Genosse der Bosse" - "comrade of the bosses").
- Is currently in a coalition with the Union.
- Bündnis 90/Die Grünen (Alliance 90/The Greens, colour obvious)- A combination of the old West German Green Party and a collection of GDR civil rights activists, it is the most successful such party in the world. Partnered with the SPD in the Schröder era, the German involvement in the 1999 war against Yugoslavia led to some resignations from the party. The most famous Green politician is former Foreign Minister Joseph Martin "Joschka" Fischer, a former Marxist who was witnessed throwing a brick at a policeman during a riot when he was younger, was sworn in as the Hesse Minister of the Environment wearing sneakers (currently at a museum), and famously told the Vice-President of the Bundestag, "Mit Verlaub, Herr Präsident, Sie sind ein Arschloch" ("With respect, Mr. President, you are an asshole"). (He remains one of the most popular and respected politicians in Germany, across party lines.) In 2011, the Greens "won" an election for the first time in traditionally-CDU Baden-Württemberg; although they were only the second-largest party in the Landtag after the election (up from third), they were also the only party to gain seats and will be providing the next Minister-President. As of 2016 The Greens are now the largest Party in the Landtag and formed a coalition with the CDU as the SPD lost to many seats for a Green-Red coalition.
- Was hit quite hard by scandals involving Jürgen Trittin during the 2013 elections and are now the smallest party in the Bundestag.
- Die Linke (The Left, Red - or pink, since red is already assigned to the SPD). The old Socialist Unity Party (SED) that ran East Germany lost most of its old members and renamed itself to PDS. When it eventually merged with the WASG, a small western party consisting mostly of former SPD-members, it got more popular. They do much better in the former GDR states, although they did very well in the 2009 state elections in the traditionally-CDU Saarland, becoming the third-largest party in the Landtag. As of 2016 they are the leading Partner in a Left-SPD-Green coalition wich rules Thuringia.
- Largest opposition party at the moment, with a couple more seats than the Greens.
- FDP (Freie Demokratische Partei-Free Democratic Party- yellow), a liberal party (folks from the USA and Canada should read that as "libertarian") and coalition partners to the CDU/CSU. Occasionally, also to the SPD. In some lands even including the Greens.
- Did not make it into the Bundestag in the 2013 elections for the first time in its history.
- AfD (Alternative für Deutschland - Alternative for Germany - blue), an eurosceptical/anti-Islam party created in early 2013, run by Frauke Petry. Infamous for harboring some lunatics and is often considered by the German media as right of the Union. It is often pointed as the reason the FDP is no longer in parliament. They managed to enter four Landtage in 2016 and became the second-largest party in Saxony-Anhalt and Mecklenburg Vorpommern.
- Did not make it into the Bundestag in the 2013 elections, with comparable results to the FDP. In the 2016 Mecklenburg Vorpommern state elections, they gained more than 20% of the vote and landed ahead of the CDU.
- Piraten (Piratenpartei - Pirate Party - orange), a pirate party. They have been stuck at 2% in elections after much hype between the 2009 and 2013 elections. Unfortunately, the very transparent nature of the party led to very publicized internal fights which shook their image in Germany.
- Did not make it into the Bundestag in the 2013 elections.
- NPD (Nationaldemokratische Partei Deutschlands - German National Democratic Party - black, red and yellow) is a far-right party, and is considered to be the most significant post-war neo-Nazi organization. They are particularly strong in the East, often entering state parliaments. After what looked like a small resurgence in the 2009 elections, they were deserted in the 2013. It is postulated in the media that they lost a large amount of votes to the Alternative. An attempt to ban them is currently ongoing.
- Did not make it into the Bundestag in the 2013 elections.
Useful Notes / Politicians and Parties of Germany
Germany has five major political parties, with their own traditional colours: