German Christlich-Demokratische Union (CDU) German political party advocating regulated economic competition and close cooperation with the United States in foreign policy. It held power in the Federal Republic of Germany from the establishment of the West German republic in 1948 until 1969 and again from 1982. It oversaw the reunification of Germany in 1990. At the end of World War II, Christian Democratic parties began to win elections in the occupied zones of Germany, though the CDU did not coalesce into a national party until 1950. A coalition between the CDU and Bavaria's Christian Social Union (Christlich-Soziale Union; CSU), begun in Knigstein in 1947, won West Germany's first election in August 1949; the CDU leader Konrad Adenauer became the republic's first chancellor. Through the 1950s the CDU-CSU and Adenauer, credited with West Germany's rapid economic recovery, won majorities and near majorities in national elections. In the 1960s the issues of German alignment with Great Britain or France in the European Economic Community, of a West German dtente with eastern Europe, and of the appropriate way to discourage rising right-wing sentiment led to disagreement in the CDU-CSU coalition. After the provincial elections of 1966, when the Free Democratic Party (Freie Demokratische Partei; FDP) abandoned its alliance with the CDU-CSU, the CDU-CSU formed a short-lived "grand coalition" with its chief rival, the liberal Social Democratic Party of Germany (Sozialdemokratische Partei Deutschlands; SPD). After the election of 1969, the SPD formed a parliamentary coalition with the FDP and won parliamentary control (1969-82). The CDU-CSU, an opposition party for the first time in its history, remained out of power until 1982, when the FDP abandoned its coalition with the SPD and formed a government with the CDU and CSU under CDU leader Helmut Kohl. This coalition, with Kohl as chancellor, presided over the unification of West and East Germany, which was formalized on Oct. 3, 1990. The coalition was further strengthened by support from former East German parties; it won united Germany's first legislative elections on Dec. 2, 1990. In the following years the CDU-led coalition faced public discontent over the economic burden of reunification, but the coalition retained power in the elections of 1994 with a reduced majority.

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