Christian Democracy is a political ideology popular in many European and Latin American nations that attempts to bring Christian principles into the realm of governance and public policy. For Christian Democrats, the teachings of Jesus Christ and the christian church ought to lay at the foundation of a civilized society. Although the movement emerged in the 19th century from conservative Catholic social thought, Protestants are an integral part of many European Christian Democratic parties.
Broadly speaking, there are two main strains of Christian Democracy, that often align with the cultural differences between European christians and Latin American christians. In Europe, Christian Democratic parties tend to be moderately conservative and, in fact, the main conservative party of that nation (Germany, Spain and Belgium). In Latin America, Christian Democratic parties tend to turn to the teachings of liberation theology. Thus these parties tend to be more progressive, particularly in terms of economic reform and redistribution of wealth. In other words, Christian Democratic parties do not always fit in neatly with the left-right spectrum.
General Christian Democratic beliefs include:
- Traditional moral values (on abortion, marriage)
- Opposition to secularization, radicalism and communism
- Belief in gradual social evolution/reform
- Emphasis on human rights and personal initiative, yet as an integral part of a larger community
- Support for some form of welfare state and some market regulations, though not on the scale of social democrats
A prominent example of a Christian Democratic Party is the Christian Democratic Union of Germany (and its associated party the Christian Social Union). The current Chancellor of Germany, Angela Merkel, is a member of the CDU, as were several of Germany's longest serving Chancellors in the post-WWII era: Konrad Adenauer, Ludwig Erhard and Helmut Kohl.