Function and role in the Bundestag’s 20th electoral term
• The CDU/CSU regards itself as a constructive opposition
• Scrutinising the government’s work – highlighting political alternatives
• Translating the parties’ aims and values into parliamentary demands
The CDU/CSU parliamentary group leads the opposition in the German Bundestag. It is actively committed to its role as the largest opposition parliamentary group and regards itself as a constructive opposition. This means that it scrutinises the work of the governing coalition, draws attention to errors and presents political alternatives.
The parliamentary group shares its values and aims with its parent parties, the Christian Democratic Union (CDU) and the Christian Social Union (CSU). The parties formulate these values and aims in policy programmes, resolutions adopted at party conferences, and election manifestos. The joint parliamentary group has the task of translating these aims into political demands. To this end, it develops draft legislation and motions, and presents position papers on topical political issues.
Plenary debates and work in parliamentary bodies
The daily routine in Parliament is often characterised by the work carried out in the Bundestag’s committees and in the parliamentary group’s working groups and other bodies. Then there are highlights in the form of major debates in the plenary, where the CDU/CSU parliamentary group tries to persuade the other parliamentary groups and the public to support its positions.
Members of Parliament are responsible only to their conscience
In general debates, the CDU/CSU parliamentary group is represented by its Chairman, Friedrich Merz. He is responsible for ensuring that the parliamentary group reaches a consistent position on issues and outwardly presents as united a front as possible – not always an easy task as, according to the Basic Law (the German constitution), Members of the Bundestag are responsible only to their conscience.
A united front is persuasive
Nonetheless, the more united a front the parliamentary group presents, the more persuasive the public find it. The Chairman of the parliamentary group is supported by the Parliamentary Secretaries, who take on the role of “managers” of the group. They coordinate its internal work, liaise with the Länder (federal states) governed by the CDU/CSU, help to plan the parliamentary agenda within the Bundestag’s Council of Elders, and ensure that the Rules of Procedure are upheld. The First Parliamentary Secretary of the CDU/CSU parliamentary group is Thorsten Frei, while Stefan Müller has served as Parliamentary Secretary of the Bundestag group of CSU parliamentarians since 2017.