Two party system getting you down? Want to inject a little Pro Hart flourish onto the suffocating blue, red and shart-stain-green currently dominating the ideological canvas? It might be time to start your own political party.
With the presidential electoral cycle ramping up in the US again, our own Murdoch-sponsored circus not far off, there’s no better time or reason to baulk humdrum electoral process that by running for office yourself.
No platform? No worries—some of the most unexpectedly successful and far out political start-ups across the world have run on less.
No strangers to satire, it’s likely the disputatious French blood that makes the Québécois so fond of dropping steamers in their domestic political pond. The most frivolous of French Canadian parties arose between the 1960s and 1990s with the advent of the Rhinoceros Party of Canada, a fully registered entity claiming to be spiritual descendants of Cacareco, a Brazilian rhinoceros and one-time elected official of the São Paulo city council. The Rhinos’ entire platform rested on a refreshingly frank promise: to keep none of their promises. Its tireless list of policies included putting the national debt on Visa, and repealing the law of gravity.
Why the rhinoceros? According to ElectionsInfo, the rhino holds an innate kinship with political kind; both creatures are equally “thick-skinned, slow-moving, dim-witted but fast as hell when in danger, with large, hairy horns growing out of the middle of their faces”. Battling to maintain registered status under the Registry of Canadian Political Parties, Rhino president Brian (Godzilla) Salmi—who in 2007 legally changed his name to ‘Satan’—took the Registry to court, the lawsuit filed as Satan vs. Her Majesty The Queen.
The Rhinos weren’t alone in taking the Canadian establishment to task. Across the Saint Lawrence River, Newfoundland’s Extreme Wrestling Party rose to notoriety in 2000 with a chiefly pro wrestling, pro gun agenda. Though it never achieved official party status, leader and retired wrestler, Sailor King Moondog White did his best to climb the rafters with slogan: “Parliament needs a Moondog”.
Frivolous politics appear to a Commonwealth specialty. In the late ‘80s The Wizard of New Zealand founded the Imperial British Conservative Party, a kiwi initiative dedicated to British Imperialism “in the face of capitalism, globalisation and the distinct lack of culture in Christchurch”. Its influence spilled across the Tasman when active member Cecil G. Murgatroyd relocated to Melbourne and ran several times in Federal elections against then-Prime Minister Bob Hawke, who publically regarded dole-bludger Murgatroyd as “the rear end of a donkey”.
Hawke no doubt viewed him as a policy threat. The McGillicuddy Serious Party—Murgatroyd’s other endeavour—operated in both Australia and New Zealand on a platform of free dung for all, abolishing money in favour of chocolate fish, and replacing the Royal New Zealand Armoured Corps with Mounted Knights. In between politics, Murgatroyd formed The Other Wankers, a rock band devoted to the joy and health advantages of masturbation.
Up in Mother England, the poms are rarely shy of dry political ridicule. Off the back of the Official Monster Raving Loony Party, the Rock ‘n’ Roll Loony Party enticed the British electorate in 2000 with free beer and sex for pensioners, and the construction of laughter clinics.
Other UK players include Captain Beany, aka Welsh eccentric, Barry Kirk, who began wearing capes and painting his bald head orange, and once sat for 100 hours in a bathtub full of baked beans—the first of many charity-driven initiatives of his New Millennium Bean Party. Had he remained on home turf, British citizen Tony Abbott might have championed, or even ran for, the Death, Dungeons and Taxes party—the group vowed in 2005 to repel immigrants with boiling oil and longbows at all ports and airports.
“In a nation embedded with the highest number of cults and oddball interest groups on the planet, this piece is too short to cover the litany of nutsy political splinters that have come and gone in the USA”
Over in the Continent, the 1991 national election in Poland saw the Polish Beer-Lovers Party (Polska Partia Przyjaciół Piwa, or ‘PPPP’) win 16 seats by promoting steady beer consumption over vodka binging. In Germany, Die PARTEI, led by the editors of the satirical magazine Titanic, actually won a seat in the 2014 European Parliament Election, the first time a satirical party has done so in Europe. Given greater powers, they plan to rebuild the Berlin Wall and the Iron Curtain between East and West Germany, and wage a war of aggression against Liechtenstein.
In a nation embedded with the highest number of cults and oddball interest groups on the planet, this piece is too short to cover the litany of nutsy political splinters that have come and gone in the USA, though recent memory conjures images of fabulously bearded mayoral candidate Jimmy McMillan bellowing “The Rent Is Too Damn High” through the 2010 New York City gubernatorial race; or Bob Healey, founder of the Cool Moose Party, who received 39% of the Rhode Island vote for Lieutenant Governor in 2010 by promising to abolish his own office.
On home turf, it’s been pretty dull since 1989. Lax registration laws let the Sun-Ripened Warm Tomato Party, the Surprise Party and the No Self-Government Party run for seats in the ACT state election that year. The Party! Party! Party! also ran, receiving an apt 0.69% of the total vote (regulations thereafter stipulated that all official parties have 100 members and a workable constitution before registration eligibility. Good while it lasted).
Inspired by all this? No? Well, if you’re not up for the push and pull of floating your own political force, there’s always the donkey vote—and we’re not talking about a null slip. Vote for a real animal instead.
In 1997, a cat named Stubbs was elected mayor of Talkeetna, Alaska. Boston Curtis—a mule—became Republican precinct committeeman for the town of Milton, Washington in 1938 (he won 51 to zero). The infamous McGillicuddies of NZ once entered a goat in a Waiheke Island election, though its attempt to have a hedgehog stand for parliament was not as successful. Perhaps most notably, armed with campaign slogan: “Vote monkey—get monkey,” it’s estimated that surly Brazilian chimpanzee, Tiao scored 400,000 votes in the 1988 Rio de Janeiro mayoralty election, effectively coming third.
If that’s not Pro Hart enough for your revolutionary canvas, you may as well vote for an inanimate object—it’s probably offering more policy than Bill Shorten’s Labor. Let’s not forget Michael Moore’s attempt to get a potted ficus on the US Presidential ticket in 2000, or the fire hydrant that came very close to gaining its spot on the Board of Governors of the University of British Columbia.
As Napoleon once said, in politics, stupidity is not a handicap.