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Political Parties of Germany

Last modified: 2018-12-15 by pete loeser
Keywords: political parties |
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Political Parties: Currently holding parliamentary seats Political Parties: Which have or have had representation in the state parliaments.

[Note: BiW and SSW are only represented here due to particularities in the respective state election laws whereas the other three have actually won more than 5% of votes in the respective state. German People's Union (DVU) does not exist anymore and isn't represented in any parliament.]

Political Parties: Regional Non-parliamentary parties: Post World War II Parties: No longer existing Post World War II Regional Parties: No longer existing Other political organisations: See also:

Current Use of Party Flags

I would like to consider the actual use of party flags in Germany. There are three occasions for using a party flag:

  • On party buildings or in front of buildings used during party conventions. Flags for this purpose are usually higher than wide. As an example this picture of the party building of the Social Democratic Party of Germany (SPD) taken from their website.
  • During party conventions as an indoor decoration. It is not always easy to say if these can be considered flags. It is just some decorative cloth with the party logo (or the kind) hanging from the wall or draped around the speaker's desk.
  • During demonstrations or manifestations. There is not much use of real flags in demonstrations in Germany; in most cases banners with inscriptions or the like are used. A major exception are demonstrations of right extremists (e.g. of the National Democratic Party of Germany), where many flags are used.
All in all one can say, that flags are not frequently used by parties in Germany, and where they are used, they are logo-on-bedsheet flags. I have written to most of the acknowledged parties to obtain first-hand information.
Marcus Schmöger, 14 Aug 2000

There are two problems with German party flags (more or less current ones). Firstly, what is a flag, proper? For political parties in Germany (most of them at least) the term 'flag' (German Flagge or Fahne) does not exist in a proper sense. If you ask them for the flag, they would answer you, "We have a logo, of course; we put that on our flags for demonstrations, as well." If you have a look at the 'flag', it is a demonstration poster, not a proper flag (I call a flag "a piece of cloth fastened to a pole on one side"; a demo poster "a piece of cloth fastened to poles on two opposite sides"). However, for the political flags in Germany, this distinction might be a very artificial one. Both flags and demonstration posters are just cloth pieces with an advertising message.
Secondly, there are always variants available, either homemade or made somewhere more centrally. One never knows if these are official or semi-official variants, or old variants etc. If they are old variants, they would be used until unserviceable. You wouldn't get any good information from the parties' headquarters on the flag variants.
Marcus Schmöger, 20 Mar 2002

There are three problems with German party flags in the 1970-1990 era:

  • About 1965-1970, major parties started a different approach towards flags: away from the "ideological symbol", towards the flag as a form of advertisement - see for instance the entry Sozialdemokratische Partei Deutschlands in Rabbow 1970 [rab70] - that is changed every two to four years. Compare the CDU party flag of 1953 with that of 1999: there have been an unknown number of different designs between these two.
  • There were a lot of new - small and unsuccessful - parties in this era, most of them gone now without leaving a vexillological trace. Many of these, especially the so-called K-groups - communist groups of different orientation -, used flags that are not well known.
  • There is no publication on the party flags of this era, which means going to archives, browsing through newspapers etc. to find information on these party flags.
Marcus Schmöger, 24 Jun 2002

Other regional and non-parliamentary parties

Rabbow 1970 [rab70] in most cases mentions political symbols of parties, but not their use on flags. I do not doubt the existence of those parties - currently there are around 95 of them registered at the Bundeswahlleiter (check its website). The problem is with the flags. I am currently investigating a bit the flags of German political parties; I wrote to many of them, but I get the impression that most of them do not use flags or just logo-on-bedsheet flags. This supports the impression that I already had from just watching the news of reading newspapers: flags would be mostly used by extremist parties (especially right-wing) in Germany.
Marcus Schmöger, 14 Jul 2000

Most of the smaller postwar parties are not in existence any more, the only ones existing continuously from 1965 (or before) until nowadays being Zentrum, FSU, BP, SSW; the DP was revived in 1993, a DNVP was shortly revived in 1988.
Sources: Rabbow 1965 [rab65]; Rabbow 1970 [rab70]; Weißmann 1991 [wei91]; Fischer Weltalmanach 1965; Peter J., Winterberg Y., Fromm R., Nach Hitler: Radikale Rechte rüsten auf, three videos each about 45 min., ARD/MDR, 2001; Fisher S.L., The minor parties of the Federal Republic of Germany: toward a comparative theory of minor parties, Nijhoff, The Hague, 1974; Mintzel A., Oberreuter H., Parteien in der Bundesrepublik Deutschland, Bundeszentrale für politische Bildung, Bonn, 1992; Hirsch K., Rechts von der Union: Personen, Organisationen, Parteien seit 1945, Knesebeck & Schuler, Munich, 1989.
Marcus Schmöger, 10 Sep 2001

Beside the usual parties, independent, "party-free" lists take part in local elections, usually on a municipal and county level. As these are organized on a local level, and just loosely joint together in umbrella organizations, the names of these lists differ somewhat. They are called, for instance: Freie Wähler (Free Voters), Überparteiliche Wähler (Supra-Partisan Voters), Freie Wählergemeinschaft (Free Voters' Association) or the like. In more recent times the umbrella organizations, most notably the Free Voters Bavaria (Freie Wähler Bayern), have been trying to organize a tighter cooperation, and even discuss taking part in the next-higher level of elections, the elections to the Landtag (State Parliament). The German-wide umbrella organization calls itself simply Freie Wähler. The Freie Wähler are usually considered conservative, but they are mainly pragmatic, as the usual party ideologies do not easily fit into municipal politics. They frequently stress that their only "ideology" is that they are "not a party".
Source: German Freie Wähler website.
Marcus Schmöger, 21 June 2002

All-German Bloc/League of Expellees and Deprived of Rights 1950-1961

The GB/BHE was founded in 1950 as BHE (Block der Heimatvertriebenen und Entrechteten) and changed the name to GB/BHE in 1952. It was the party of the expellees and with the ongoing integration of the expellees in the West German society the role of the party dwindled away. The GB/BHE was only represented in the Bundestag from 1953-1957, and also was part of the coalition government of Adenauer. In 1961 it merged with the remnants of the DP to from the GDP. The GB/BHE did not use own flags. See also Federation of Expellees (Bund der Vertriebenen/BdV)
Marcus Schmöger, 14 Sep 2001

All-German Party 1961-late 1960's

The All-German Party (Gesamtdeutsche Partei / GDP) was founded in 1961 as a merger of GB/BHE and the remnants of the DP; after the unsuccessful Bundestag election in 1961 most of the former DP members left the party; the short name was changed to GPD in 1966. After that the party virtually disappeared. The GDP did not use own flags.
Marcus Schmöger, 14 Sep 2001

German Freedom Party 1962-1965

The German Freedom Party (Deutsche Freiheits-Partei/DFP) was another small nationalist party, that had split from the DRP and merged with the DG and other groups in 1965 to form the AUD (Aktionsgemeinschaft Unabhängiger Deutscher, Action Association of Independent Germans). It had no flag. Sources: Rabbow 1965 and Rabbow 1970.
Marcus Schmöger, 10 Sep 2001

German Peace Union 1960-1970's

The German Peace Union (Deutsche Friedens-Union / DFU) was a left-wing neutralist party - some called it a communist camouflage organization - that had no party flag: it expressly stated, that it did not want to use a flag of its own. Sources: Rabbow 1965 and Rabbow 1970.
Marcus Schmöger, 10 September 2001

League of Germans 1953-1960's

The League of Germans (Bund der Deutschen / BdD) was another left-wing neutralist party - some called it a communist camouflage organization - that cooperated with the DFU after 1960. It used an oak leaf, vertically divided white-black, as its party symbol, but not on flags. Sources: Rabbow 1965 and Rabbow 1970.
Marcus Schmöger, 10 Sep 2001

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