Following the federal election in 2021, there was a demand among Christian Democratic Union (CDU) party members to omit the word ‘Christian’ from the party’s formal name, according to an article published on Wednesday by the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung (FAZ).
An internal analysis concluded that German conservatives feared they were restricting themselves from being able to entice non-Christians to the party, and were strongly in favor of dropping the ‘C’ from the CDU party name, according to Mandiner.
If the CDU were to go through with such a move, for many conservatives it would represent one step further to the left for a party that has become increasingly less conservative and which has even attacked parties, such as Hungary’s Fidesz, that profess to be defenders of the Christian faith in Europe.
In Germany, trust in the church has declined dramatically. This year, less than half of Germans are expected to belong to one of the two historic churches for the first time. It is also a serious concern that the scandals within the Roman Catholic Church — abuse and sexual scandals — have affected the social perception of Christianity as a whole.
The CDU, following a recent federal election loss, is doing some soul-searching as the party’s increasingly older voting base reveals just how fragile the party’s future is.
In light of this, the suggestion of a name change can be interpreted as one of the country’s largest political communities wanting to disengage itself from the crisis-plagued Christian institutions. At the same time, European political processes have so far not shown that the reference to Christianity would affect the success of conservative parties.
The initiative within the CDU would not be unprecedented, as in Switzerland the Christian Democratic People’s Party has rebranded at the federal level to “Die Mitte” (The Central).
In debates within the CDU and the CSU, it is often emphasized that the party alliance is built on conservative, Christian social, and economic liberal principles. The background of the Christian trend primarily affected the social direction, but the “C”, i.e., the Christian adjective, also embodies the contrast between the different tendencies within the party.
In the past, leading politicians in the CDU and the Bavarian sister party the Christian Socialist Union (CSU) have voiced Catholic social teaching as a link between different trends. Today, however, the slogan of the “Christian human image” fulfills this function, which is primarily aimed at addressing supporters who profess to be cultural Christians but are not believers or may profess to be of a different religion.
The Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung publication adds that although the content of the letter “C” has changed, the CDU/CSU should not get rid of the reference to Christianity. Without this, the CDU and the CSU would no longer be fraternal parties, but a party alliance with two different political persuasions. Therefore, as long as Christianity as a cultural idol plays a role in German society, it would be worthwhile to stick to the current name.