In Bavaria, the CDU does not exist; its role is played by the Christian Social Union (CSU). The CDU cooperates with the CSU at the federal level; although each party maintains its own structure, the two form a common caucus in the Bundestag and do not run opposing campaigns.
The CDU/CSU has adherents among Catholics, Protestants, rural interests, and members of all economic classes. It is generally conservative on economic and social policy and more identified with the Roman Catholic and Protestant churches than are the other major parties, although its programs are pragmatic rather than ideological. In 1990, it merged with the East German equivalent of the same name, the Christian Democratic Union.
Helmut Kohl served as chairman of the CDU from 1973 until the party's electoral defeat in 1998, when he was succeeded by Wolfgang Schäuble; Schäuble resigned in early 2000 as a result of a party financing scandal and was replaced by Angela Merkel. In the 1998 general election, the CDU polled 28.4% and the CSU 6.7% of the national vote. In 2002, CDU reached 29.5% and the CSU 9.0%.