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Political Parties & Associations

Political Parties

Distribution of seats in the Saxon Landtag (2009)

Distribution of seats in the Saxon Landtag (2009)
(© Statistical State Office of the Free State of Saxony)

The decisive role of the CDU (Christian Democratic Union) in Saxony is not based in historic roots or particular social groups. Initially, the former CDU chair and Federal Chancellor Helmut Kohl won popularity as a key supporter of German reunification, then this role was taken over by the first Prime Minister, Kurt Biedenkopf (CDU). This advantage was reinforced by the broadly functioning statewide organisation inherited from the predecessor party in the GDR.

Despite a decline in membership in the years since the Reunification, the CDU was able not only to win all the directly-elected seats in both state elections in 1994 and 1999, but even to achieve an absolute majority in 50 (1999: 49) of the 60 constituencies. In the 2004 elections, the CDU lost its overall majority for the first time and entered into a coalition with the SPD (Social Democratic Party). The SPD only formed a state branch of the party in May 1990 and had to build up their organisation from scratch. While the SPD were still just ahead of the PDS (Party of Democratic Socialism) in the 1994 state elections, in 1999 it had to pass the role of main opposition to the successor to the SED (Socialist Unity Party of the GDR). The 2004 SPD result was again their worst in any German state.

The Left PDS (currently renamed simply 'The Left') was formed in August 1990 from the merger of three former district organisations of the SED. They were able to improve their 1994 result in 2004 by 1.4%, and now have over double the number of seats of the SPD.

In 1990, the Saxon Greens, Democracy Now (Demokratie Jetzt) and New Forum (Neues Forum) only stood as a 'list association' at the state election, winning ten seats. The party Bündnis 90 (Alliance 90)/The Greens was first founded from these three organisations in September 1991, joining the national organisation in Spring 1992. Divisions within both civil rights and environmental movements contributed to their narrow failure to get into the Landtag in 1994, and they again failed to achieve it in 1999, finally winning seats with 5.1% of the vote in 2004.

The FDP (Free Democrat Party) in Saxony arose out of the merger of the Association of Free Democrats (the LDPD and NDPD of the former block party), the East-FDP founded early in 1990 and the New Forum Party. This merged party won seats in the state parliament in 1990, but fell well short of the minimum 5% to obtain seats in 1999. They returned to the Landtag in 2004 with 5.4% of the votes.
The NPD (National Democratic Party), founded in 1990 in Saxony, were elected to the Landtag in 2004. They are seen by the body supervising the constitution as rejecting parliamentary democracy, but were democratically elected. They remain under scrutiny by the Saxon authorities.

The Trade Union Confederation strives for Solidarity

Eight individual trade unions, with around 300,000 members, make up the German Trade Union Confederation (Deutschen Gewerkschaftsbund - DGB) in Saxony. The largest is the services union ver.di with over 100,000 members. Unions work for socially fair inter-relationships. The right to free bargaining is an important guarantee of social democracy and is protected in the German Constitution. Unions negotiate with employers for better wages, working conditions, working time regulation, annual special payments, and protection against dismissal and redundancy. The large network of unions offer their members support in almost all walks of life. Unions also support their members outside the normal working day: protection of working and social rights, further professional training and also study support make up just part of the work of the unions.

Employer Associations ( August 2006)

The employer organisations in Saxony follow the division between the three government districts: Dresden, Leipzig and Chemnitz, so there are three Chambers of Commerce and Industry and three Chambers of Trade. The Association of Saxon Businesses (Vereinigung der Sächsischen Wirtschaft e. V. - VSW) was founded in 1998 to lead the employer and business associations in the state. The VSW works as the state representative of the national Confederation of German Employers (Bundesvereinigung Deutscher Arbeitgeberverbände e. V. - BDA) and the Confederation of German Industry (Bundesverbandes der Deutschen Industrie e. V. - BDI). The Confederation of Saxon Employers has represented the interests of its members, mostly small and medium enterprises, since 1990.

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