The Christian Social Union in Bavaria ( CSU – Christlich-Soziale Union in Bayern (help·info)) is a Christian democratic and conservative political party in Germany. It was founded as a continuation of the Weimar-era Catholic Bavarian People's Party. It operates only in the state of Bavaria, while its sister party, the Christian Democratic Union (CDU), operates in the other 15 states of Germany. At the federal level, it forms a common faction in the Bundestag, the federal parliament, with the CDU. This makes up the CDU/CSU faction, which is frequently referred to as die Unionsfraktion (the Union faction). The CSU currently governs at the federal level with the CDU and FDP. In the state of Bavaria, the CSU governs in a coalition with the FDP. Even after the 2009 general election, the CDU/CSU emerged as the largest party in Germany, yet both lost votes predominantly to the FDP. The CSU received only 42.5% of the vote in Bavaria in the 2009 election, which constitutes its weakest showing in the party's history.
Franz Josef Strauss (1915–1988) had left behind the strongest legacy as a leader of the party, having led the party from 1961 until his death in 1988. His political career in the federal cabinet was unique in that he had served four ministerial posts in the years between 1953 and 1969. From 1978 until his death in 1988 he served as the minister-president of Bavaria. He was the first leader of the CSU to be a candidate for the German chancellery, in 1980. In the 1980 elections he ran against the incumbent Helmut Schmidt of the SPD, but lost thereafter, as the SPD and the FDP managed to secure an absolute majority in a social-liberal coalition.
The CSU has led the Bavarian state government since it came into existence in 1946, save from 1950 to 1953 when the Bavaria Party formed a state government in coalition with the German Branches of the SPD and the FDP. The CSU currently governs with the FDP. Before the 2008 elections in Bavaria, the CSU perennially achieved absolute majorities at the state level. This level of dominance is unique among Germany's 16 states. Edmund Stoiber took over the CSU leadership in 1999. He ran for Federal Chancellor in 2002, but his preferred CDU/CSU and FDP coalition lost against the SPD candidate Gerhard Schröders Red-Green coalition. In 2003, the CSU was re-elected as the Bavarian government with a majority (60.7% and 124 of 180 seats in the state parliament). On January 18, 2007, Stoiber announced his decision to step down from the posts of minister-president and CSU chairman by September 30 of that year.
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