German election - where do political parties stand on foreign policy and security?

With Germany playing a larger international role, foreign policy and global security are major campaign issues. Here's where the major political parties stand on issues ranging from NATO to North Korea.

Christian Democratic Union (CDU)/Christian Social Union (CSU)

NATO: The CDU/CSU supports the military alliance as a fundamental part of regional and global security. The CDU takes credit for Germany's accession to NATO in 1955 under former Chancellor Konrad Adenauer, who led the party at that time.

Transatlantic relations: The CDU/CSU views transatlantic relations positively, describing the US as a "central partner." However, since US President Donald Trump assumed office, the transatlantic relationship has experienced challenges, with German Chancellor Angela Merkel saying Europe could no longer rely on Washington like it did before.

Read more: Angela Merkel: How the German chancellor defeats her opponents

Politics | 31.08.2017

Turkey: The CDU/CSU has never supported full accession to the EU. Given the heightened tensions between Berlin and Ankara in the wake of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan's purge against civil servants and detainment of German citizens, Merkel called for all EU accession talks to be scrapped.

North Korea: The CDU/CSU states that sanctions and international pressure will ultimately undermine the North Korean regime, halt its weapons program and ultimately foster long-lasting stability on the Korean peninsula. Sanctions should therefore be stepped up also to target North's oil industry. The party also wants to see a ban on all North Korean guest workers, especially in Europe.


Christian Democratic Union (CDU)

After three terms in office, Chancellor Angela Merkel is no stranger to election posters. With a budget of 20 million euros, the conservative Christian Democratic Union (CDU) is pinning up some 22,000 placards across Germany. The use of a deconstructed German flag brings out the party's patriotism, while the main focus of slogans is on issues such as security, family and work.


Social Democrats (SPD)

The Social Democrats are keeping it classic with their long-time red, square logo. Posters concentrate on topics such as education, family, pension, investment and wage inequality. At the end of their 24-million-euro campaign, the SPD is planning a final crusade ahead of election day, which still remains under wraps.


Free Democratic Party (FDP)

More than 5 million euros have been spent on the liberal FDP's poster campaign. With their black and white photoshoot, the FDP have gone for thoroughly modern marketing, with one man at the center: Christian Lindner. Voters, however, will have a hard time reading the text heavy posters. "Impatience is also a virtue," reads the slogan.


The Green Party

The Greens have remained faithful to their cause and focused on classic topics such as the environment, integration and peace. "Environment isn't everything. But without the environment, everything is nothing," says the slogan. A mainstay on all of the posters is the party's sunflower logo.


Alternative for Germany (AfD)

The prize for most controversial placards goes, without doubt, to the right-wing AfD. From afar, the poster showing a smiling, pregnant woman seems innocent until the slogan becomes legible: "New Germans? We make them ourselves." In another poster, set against the background image of three bikini-clad women, the AfD asks: "Burkas? We like bikinis."


The Left Party

The Left party have certainly given their best to use as many fonts as possible. In a combination of font and wordplay, this slogan one reads: "[Colorful] People. Decisively against right-wing hate." Affordable rents, fairer pensions and an end to arms exports are the main issues for the leftist party.

Social Democratic Party (SPD)

NATO: The SPD backs military deployment for peacekeeping missions, crisis prevention and conflict management, most notably under the framework of international order and its institutions, such as NATO and the UN.

Transatlantic relations: The SPD supports the US as an important ally and transatlantic relations favorably. However, the center-left party is wary of developments in the transatlantic relationship that may undermine established norms in Germany, including worker's rights and environmental protection. In the wake of 9/11, former Chancellor Gerhard Schröder did not join the US for the Iraq War.

Read more: Who is Martin Schulz, the SPD challenger to Angela Merkel?

Turkey: The Social Democrats have, in principle, always favored Turkey's accession to the EU. Its manifesto initially stated that accession talks should continue, although the party has ruled out membership "in the foreseeable future." However, SPD candidate Martin Schulz has called for membership talks to be scrapped altogether.

North Korea: The SPD's chancellor candidate, Martin Schulz, has refused to make the North Korea crisis a focal point in this year's federal election. The party, however, has ruled out any German military participation in case of war.

Eastern Europe: The SPD's former head, Willy Brandt, famously started the rapprochement with Eastern Europe when he acknowledged German guilt toward the Polish people with a gesture of humility and penance toward the victims of the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising in 1970. In the 2017 election campaign former SPD Chancellor Gerhard Schröder caused his party some headache, as he took on another job with Russia's energy giant Rosneft. In a TV interview 2004 Schröder famously called Vladimir Putin a "democrat through and through" - a statement his opponents will not tire of using.

Infografik Moderater Populismus in Deutschland ENG

Left Party

NATO: The Left Party is the only German party that calls for the dissolution of NATO. It opposes all Bundeswehr missions abroad. The Left Party often organizes protests against NATO, which it describes as an obsolete remnant of the Cold War.

Transatlantic relations: The Left Party criticizes Germany's relations with the US, instead urging better relations with Russia. It views the US as one of the premier security threats across the globe, slamming its foreign military interventions and pursuit of what it views as unbridled capitalism. 

Read more: Sahra Wagenknecht: the uncompromising face of the Left party

Turkey: On migration, the Left Party opposes any sort of deal with an authoritarian regime, including the Erdogan government. It wants to scrap the EU's current migrant deal under which Turkey receives aid in exchange for reducing the flow of migrants into Europe.

North Korea: The Left Party has condemned Kim Jong Un's actions, but lays blame on the US for the regional crisis. American military bases and missiles have only heightened the risk of warfare in the Pacific region, it says. The Left Party wants Germany and the EU to work toward ensuring that all sides agree to nuclear disarmament.

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Green Party

NATO: The Green Party was a pacifist political movement until Green foreign minister Joschka Fischer famously forced his party to a U turn in 1999 when Germany joined NATO forces in former Yugoslavia. The party now supports NATO as a collective defense mechanism. However, since US President Donald Trump assumed office, the Greens have called for an "honest" revision of the alliance's core purpose, saying it is "dangerous" to use the alliance for other objectives, such as counter-terrorism operations.

Transatlantic relations: The Greens question whether the Trump administration shares the same values for international order. The party criticizes the US president's decision to pullout of the Paris climate agreement, its apparent willingness to start trade wars and the administration's rejection of human rights norms on refugees and torture.

Read more: Why the German Green Party is wilting

Turkey: The Greens favor Turkish EU accession in principal, but have expressed concern about Ankara's failure to meet its membership criteria. As a traditionally pacifist party, they have also called on the German government to halt all arms exports to Turkey.

North Korea: The Green Party has no official stance on North Korea in relation to its most recent nuclear tests and heightened tensions in the region. It has, however, promoted nuclear disarmament.

Infografik The Greens Party's dwindling support Englisch

Free Democratic Party (FDP)

NATO: The FDP fielded German foreign ministers for decades as a junior coalition partner to CDU and SPD. It supports NATO, saying it is "fully committed" to the military alliance. The Free Democrats back the alliance's defensive posturing in the Baltic region as deterrence against Russia. The party believes in increasing Germany's defense spending to reach NATO's 2 percent of the GDP target.

Transatlantic relations: The FDP supports expanding the relationship with the US, most notably in terms of free trade. The Free Democrats believe the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) free trade deal could serve as the "rules for globalization."

Read more: The FDP's feisty Christian Lindner: the king of the kingmakers

Turkey: As long as Erdogan continues to preside over Turkey, the EU should end all accession talks, according to the Liberal Party. In principal, EU membership should still be an option for Turkey, depending on the development of its rule of law and its human rights record.

North Korea: While the Free Democrats have taken no official position on North Korea and its nuclear weapons program, the Friedrich-Naumann-Stiftung, a liberal think-tank with close ties to the FDP, has voiced its support of economic sanctions, and also called on China to cut off oil exports to North.


The Animal Protection Party

In Germany, animal rights activists block off whole highways to make sure toads can cross them safely. So it's no wonder that a party like "Human Environment Animal Welfare" exists. But maybe the larger Green Party has taken the wind out of the animal protectors' sails a bit. In 2013, they could only sway around 140,000 out of Germany's almost 62 million eligible voters.


The Republicans

This one is slightly confusing. Germany has its own Republicans - the REP, as they're known here, have no relation to the party of US President Donald Trump. German Republicans are right-wing nationalists who call themselves "conservative patriots" and say they're fighting to "preserve our culture and identity."


The Party

Yep, this party's simply called The Party. It was founded in 2004 by the editors of German satire magazine "Titanic." The party head is Martin Sonneborn (pictured), who won The Party a seat in the European Parliament in 2014. Maybe this can improve The Party's results in the upcoming Bundestag election. In the previous one, it claimed fewer than 79,000 votes.


Referendum Party

For the party "Starting now... Democracy through referendums - politics for the people," Switzerland is a big role model. Politicians in the German Referendum Party want all political decisions made by the people. They say this would democratize the "rule of the parties" and would lead to policies focused on the voter instead of pharmaceutical or banking lobbyists.


Marxist-Leninist Party of Germany

The MLPD is a small party even though half of Germany was once Communist: While the country was divided from 1949 to 1989, East Germany was ruled by the Socialist Unity Party. Today, the far-left MLPD doesn't play a role in German politics. In the last Bundestag election they got a mere 24,000 votes.


Christians for Germany

"Alliance C - Christians for Germany" is a Christian party that was created in 2015 when the Christian-fundamentalist Party of Bible-abiding Christians and the Party for Labor, Environment and Family merged. The party advocates what they see as biblical values: citizen freedom, the rule of law, marriage, family and the preservation of God's creation.


The Humanists

In a country so often governed by Christian Democrats, perhaps it’s no surprise that a party called The Humanists is only running in one state. Founded in 2014, with fewer than 200 members, its motto is "freedom, fairness, progress." The party’s lengthy program addresses aspects including an end to government funding for churches in Germany.



Voters almost across the board can vote for the V-Partei³ (the V-cubed party) - the party for "Veränderung" ("change" in English), Vegetarians and Vegans. Founded in 2016 at the Veggieworld trade fair in Munich, the party has about 1,200 members. By 2030, they’d like to see all butchers go out of business, true to their motto: "We love life."


Alliance for an Unconditional Basic Income

Several countries have launched basic income pilot projects and the new German party Alliance for an Unconditional Basic Income is also asking for just that: a basic income for everyone, no matter whether they work or not. Voters in all 16 federal states can cast their ballot for this alliance - even if it remains up in the air how the party would finance such an income, and how much it would be.



Despite its name, the Berlin-only Bergpartei (mountain party) has nothing to do with climbing. In an alliance with the Über-Party, it’s finally made the electoral roll at the fourth attempt. Members describe themselves as "artists, former squatters, job hoppers, media guys and other creative people" - and for a lack of funds, these leftists design their own campaign posters.


DU - The Urban

Another Berlin-only party is the spanking new The Urban, a Hip-Hop Party: 253 members and counting, hoping to propagate what links them, the essence of hip-hop music - respect, a sense of community and creativity. The party program has a special focus on anti-racism and anti-discrimination.


The Pensioners

You won't see this group on the ballot in the 2017 Bundestag elections anymore: the German Pensioner Party has retired. In the 2013 elections, it got a mere 25,000 votes and in 2016, party officials disbanded it for good.

Alternative for Germany (AfD)

NATO: The AfD views NATO negatively in its current form. The party believes NATO purposefully circumvents Russia on an array of security matters in Europe and the Middle East, calling for better relations with Moscow. Some AfD members have questioned Germany's membership in the military alliance.

Brexit and Transatlantic relations: The AfD is the only German party that supports the UK's decision to leave the EU known as "Brexit." The AfD does not support Germany's relations with the US outright. The party rejected free trade agreements negotiated by the EU, such as the Comprehensive Economic Trade Agreement (CETA) with Canada. However, it views US President Donald Trump as a like-minded populist.

Read more: 10 things you need to know about Germany's right-wing AfD

Turkey: The euroskeptic party is against Turkish membership. The AfD also wants to scrap the EU's migrant deal with Turkey and has called on Europe to monitor its own borders.

North Korea: The AfD believes that UN sanctions imposed on the North have so far shown to be effective. However, the Security Council should do all it can to continue stepping up economic pressure on the rogue state, according to the party. It also wants to see the US coordinate its North Korea policy with China and Russia.


Frauke Petry, Alternative for Germany (AfD)

The leader of the Alternative for Germany, Frauke Petry, said police could use guns as a last resort to prevent illegal border crossings, pointing out "that's the law." What began as a euroskeptic party has turned into an anti-establishment and anti-EU force, claiming up to 25 percent of votes in German state elections in March 2016 and taking second place in Chancellor Angela Merkel's home state.


Marine Le Pen, National Front (France)

Many believe Brexit and Donald Trump's victory in the US presidential elections could give new impetus to France's National Front. Established in 1972 and now led by Marine Le Pen, who took over from her father, Jean-Marie Le Pen, in 2011, the National Front is a nationalist party that uses populist rhetoric to promote its anti-immigration and anti-EU positions.


Geert Wilders, Party for Freedom (The Netherlands)

The leader of the Dutch Party for Freedom, Geert Wilders, is one of Europe's most prominent right-wing politicians. He was convicted in December for asking a crowd in 2014 if they wanted more or fewer Moroccans in the country, but no penalty was imposed. His party is considered anti-EU and anti-Islam. It is leading polls ahead of next year's parliamentary elections and currently holds 15 seats.


Nikos Michaloliakos, Golden Dawn (Greece)

Nikos Michaloliakos is the head of Greece's neo-fascist party Golden Dawn. He was arrested in September 2013 along with dozens of other party members and charged with forming a criminal organization. Michaloliakos was released in July 2015. Golden Dawn won 18 seats in parliamentary elections in September 2016. The party holds anti-immigrant views and favors a defense agreement with Russia.


Gabor Vona, Jobbik (Hungary)

Hungary's anti-immigration, populist and economic protectionist party Jobbik aspires to be in the government by 2018. Now Hungary's third-largest party, it won 20 percent of votes in the last elections held in 2014. It wants a referendum on EU membership. Jobbik also advocates criminalizing "sexual deviancy," submitting a bill targeting homosexuals in 2012. Jobbik is headed by Gabor Vona.


Jimmie Akesson, Sweden Democrats

After Trump's election, Sweden Democrats leader Jimmie Akesson said in an interview with Swedish TV: "There is a movement in both Europe and the United States where the establishment is being challenged. It is clearly happening here as well." The Sweden Democrats call for restricting immigration, are against allowing Turkey to join the EU and want a referendum on EU membership.


Norbert Hofer, Freedom Party (Austria)

Norbert Hofer of Austria's nationalist Freedom Party lost the recent presidential runoff by a mere 30,000 votes, after being front-runner in the first round. Former Green party leader Alexander Van der Bellen won 50.3 percent of the vote, with Hofer gaining 49.7 percent. The Freedom Party's leader campaigns for the strengthening of the country's borders and limiting benefits for immigrants.


Marian Kotleba, People's Party - Our Slovakia

The leader of the hard-right People's Party - Our Slovakia, Marian Kotleba, has said, "Even one immigrant is one too many." On another occasion, he called NATO a "criminal organization." This Slovak party favors leaving the EU as well as the eurozone. It won 8 percent of the vote in March 2016 elections, securing 14 seats in the country's 150-member parliament.

Find all the information you need on DW's special elections page

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