Germany's political color code
A party's signature color is to represent its orientation and ideology. History and tradition are decisive factors. But any change bears a strong marketing message. And now the center-right CDU has gone for a revamp.
The Christian Democratic Union (CDU) has made turquoise and dark blue their party colors. General-Secretary Carsten Linnemann explained that "Cadenabbia" turquoise (named after former Chancellor Konrad Adenauer's favorite holiday destination) signifies vitality, confidence and freedom, while "Rhöndorf blue" (named after Adenauer's place of residence) stands for substance, competence and security.
... and blue
Blue is the most popular color with conservative parties in Europe. The far-right Alternative for Germany (AfD) chose light blue as its color "because blue is one of the most popular colors in Germany and because blue stands for freshness and new beginnings." Critics point out both CDU and AfD now use blue, the national colors and a curve rising from left to right to signify an upward trend.
In 2008, the CDU introduced bright orange as its party's color to signal "an emotionally positive dimension" as well as "confidence and the will to reform." Orange was popular in Germany in the 1970s, but the CDU's marketing team said Orange was "totally in," and that it was historically considered one of the colors of conservative parties, in America and Europe after World War II.
From now on, the CDU will spell its initials in black. Black is the color of the Catholic Church and bourgeois conservatism (although it has also been used to signify extremist attitudes such as anarchism or fascism.) For decades, the CDU wrote its party name in red — which critics said gave the wrong message.
Historically and internationally red stands for communism and socialism. But in 2009, the center-left SPD opted for purple. The intention was to signify dignity and power. In ancient times, emperors and senators wore purple, as do Catholic bishops and cardinals signifying nobility and luxury. SPD rank and file complained that the color does not fit with its traditional working class electorate.
The name says it all for Germany's environmentalist Green Party. In color psychology, green is considered the color of hope and fertility, it is associated with nature and contentment. The West German Greens merged with East Germany's Bündnis 90 in 1993. In 2011, the party revamped its logo maintaining the color and sunflower symbol, but adding the complete party name in a font called "Futura."
Germany's neoliberal, business-oriented Free Democrats (FDP) traditionally use bright yellow for their logo, with the party name in blue letters. After its crushing election defeat in 2013, the FDP sought to signal a new beginning. In 2015 it added a third color: A smattering of magenta pink to indicate compassion and signal a spirit of optimism. It's like pop art, read the comments on Twitter.
Brown is the no-go color in German politics. The National Socialist fascists led by Adolf Hitler used brown shirts. For historical reasons, right-wing extremist parties are still associated with the color brown and a "brown ideology" or "brown attitude" colloquially stands for a fascist stance, reminiscent of National Socialism.