Two parties, one joint parliamentary group
The Christian Democratic Union of Germany (CDU) chaired by Angela Merkel, and the Christian Social Union (CSU) chaired by Horst Seehofer, are two separate political parties.
In the CDU/CSU parliamentary group in the Bundestag, the Members of both parties have come together to form a single parliamentary group based on an agreement which has been renewed at the start of each electoral term since 1949. Volker Kauder has been the parliamentary group chairman since 2005.
The CDU/CSU parliamentary group has been the largest such group in the German Bundestag since the early federal election of 2005. In the current 18th electoral term of the German Bundestag (2013-2017), it has 311 Members, 255 of whom belong to the CDU and 56 to the CSU.
The parliamentary group plays an instrumental role in helping to form public opinion. At parliamentary group meetings, the views of the individual Members are gathered, thereby enabling the group to speak with a single voice during plenary debates. Prior to these meetings, substantive discussions are held in the working groups and executive committee bodies. In plenary debates on general political topics, the chairman of the parliamentary group adopts the role of group spokesperson. The parliamentary secretaries act as “parliamentary group managers”. They coordinate parliamentary business within the parliamentary group, seek consensus with representatives of the CDU/CSU governments at federal state (Land) level, agree on the parliamentary agenda in the German Bundestag’s Council of Elders and ensure that the Rules of Procedure are adhered to.
What is a parliamentary group?
A parliamentary group is a voluntary association of Members from one or more parties who pursue the same political aims and who do not compete with one another in any Land. A parliamentary group must comprise at least five percent of the Members of the German Bundestag.