The Rhinoceros Party of Canada
Canada has a long tradition of satirical political parties, and the Rhinoceros Party was probably the most famous of all. The party was started in 1963, and for nearly 30 years they consistently made headlines for their media stunts and bizarre campaign promises, which included a solemn vow “to keep none of our promises.” Other parts of the platform included repealing the law of gravity, annexing both the United States and Antarctica, and storing all the country’s nuclear waste on the floor of the senate, because “we’ve been storing political waste there for years.” Despite their tongue-in-cheek platform, The Rhinoceros Party was able to garner a surprising number of votes in most elections, finishing second in one Federal election where they nominated a professional clown, and stealing hundreds of votes in another when they ran a candidate with the exact same name as the frontrunner.
The Guns and Dope Party
The Guns and Dope Party was started as a joke in 2003 by cult author Robert Anton Wilson in response to the high-profile California recall election that was eventually won by Arnold Schwarzenegger. The party was libertarian in philosophy, and worked around Wilson’s idea that if right wing gun lovers and left wing drug users could come together, they could form an unstoppable majority. With this in mind, the party’s unofficial slogan was “I’ll tolerate your hobbies if you’ll tolerate mine.” In addition to their pro-gun, pro-drug stance, the party also promised to replace one third of Congress with ostriches, and encouraged voters to write in their own name on the presidential ballot.
The Canadian Extreme Wrestling Party
The Canadian Extreme Wrestling Party was formed in Newfoundland in 1999 by a group of amateur and professional wrestlers. The party is known, among other things, for choosing its leader by staging an 11-man wrestling battle royale, where the last person standing was declared the winner. Despite their bizarre methods, the party’s platform was surprisingly serious, and addressed environmental and economic issues, as well as Canada’s involvement in NATO. In 2000, the Extreme Wrestling Party ran former WWF star Sailor King Moondog White for a seat in the Canadian parliament, but finished last out of the five candidates in the race.
The Miss Great Britain Party
Political campaigns are often jokingly referred to as beauty pageants, especially for the candidates of The Miss Great Britain Party, as nearly every single one of them is a veteran of the Miss Great Britain Beauty Contest. The party was started by the pageant chairman in 2008 with the slogan “to make Westminster sexy not sleazy,” and since then it has fielded candidates in several elections with little success. The party’s platform is a mix of serious and satirical policies that include a reworking of the British tax system, equal pay for women, and “A British Bank Holiday which encourages people to look fabulous for the day.”
The McGillicuddy Serious Party
The McGillicuddy Serious Party operated out of New Zealand for several years in the 80s and 90s, where they ran under the campaign slogan: “if you want to waste your vote, vote for us.” The party was known for its bizarre methods of choosing candidates, which at different points included hand-to-hand combat with swords made out of newspaper, a water balloon fight, and a giant game of musical chairs. Their policies were even stranger, and were usually proposed in response to the platforms of the major political parties. Some campaign promises included changing the voting age to include only those under the age of eighteen, mandatory homosexuality for one third of the population, using sand as legal tender, and, of course, a promise to break all their promises.
The Union of Conscientiously Work-Shy Elements
Unlike most of the political parties on this list, the Union of Conscientiously Work-Shy Elements, against all odds, actually managed to win an election. The party was started as a joke by Danish comedian Jacob Haugaard, who for years used it as a platform to run satirical political campaigns for a seat in Denmark’s parliament. Although the party’s policies included absurd promises like better weather, better Christmas presents, and the right to impotency, in 1994 Haugaard received more than twenty thousand votes and managed to win a seat in parliament. He served one four-year term before retiring, but while in parliament he did manage to make good on a few of his other campaign promises, like his pledge to increase the amount of bread for ducks in the local park.
The Official Monster Raving Loony Party
One of the most well-known and surprisingly successful fringe political parties in England, The Official Monster Raving Loony Party was established by musician and activist David Sutch in the early 80s. The OMRLP’s platform is always full of bizarre and satirical political promises, which have included adding the Loch Ness Monster to the endangered species list, banning the use of asterisks, and a pledge to see that Ozzy Osbourne receives a knighthood. Despite their intentionally frivolous platform, the OMRLP does have a number of serious policy plans, and quite a few of their original ideas, like lowering the voting age to 18, have since been signed into law. Over the years, the party has managed to win a number of seats in local government throughout the U.K., most notably in small town mayoral races, but they haven’t had much success since 2005.
The Surprise Party
The Surprise Party was a party created in 1940 when popular comedian Gracie Allen, the wife of George Burns, ran for President as part of an elaborate media stunt. Running under the slogans “it’s in the bag” and “down with common sense,” Allen even went so far as to go on a whistle-stop tour around the country by train, appearing on radio shows and giving joke policy speeches. She encouraged Americans to take pride in the massive national debt, joking “it’s the biggest in the world,” and used a live kangaroo named Laura as her official party symbol. Allen’s campaign came to a head when she was unexpectedly elected mayor of the town of Menominee, Michigan (though she didn’t accept), and in the actual Presidential election she is estimated to have received at least several hundred write-in votes.
The Polish Beer Lovers’ Party
The Polish Beer Lovers’ party is probably the most surprisingly successful of all the groups on this list, as they actually managed to win 16 seats in Poland’s parliament during a hotly contested election in 1991. Founded by satirist Janusz Rewi?sk, the party began as a joke campaign to fight alcoholism by promoting drinking beer instead of vodka. Because Poland was going through a great deal of change following the collapse of communism, political parties were not well established, and the Beer Lovers’ Party’s humorous platform and the slogan “it won’t be better but for sure it will be funnier” managed to gain them some public support. The Beer Lovers’ Party eventually split into the Little Beer and Big Beer parties, and later transformed into a legitimate political organization with a serious platform.
The Youth International Party
Also known as the Yippies, the Youth International Party was a famously radical political party that operated in the U.S. during the 60s and 70s. Started by counterculture activists Abbie Hoffman, Jerry Rubin, and Paul Krassner, the organization was known for its theatrical style and anti-authority views. The Yippies famously ran a pig for President in 1968, and engineered a number of media stunts, including an attempt to use psychic energy to levitate the Pentagon and an incident at Woodstock where Pete Townshend of The Who had to fight Hoffman off the stage with his guitar. Although they were originally formed as a political party, the group eventually became best known for these stunts as well as a number of now-infamous protests, including one at the 1968 Democratic National Convention in Chicago that ultimately led to a riot.