With an election year upon us in the United States, voters are getting a closer look at the two parties that dominate the American political landscape: the Republicans and the Democrats.
Third parties, however, typically operate beyond the notice of most voters. Third-party candidates, such as Ross Perot or Ralph Nader, have had a presence and an impact on American presidential politics. But they are exceptions to the rule.
Most political organizations outside the mainstream get little attention. Some legitimately strive to push change through the ballot box, typically by calling attention to a single issue or theme. They work within the system with the intention of improving it as they see fit.
Others, however, are fringe groups, existing in both the United States and internationally in governments with multi-party systems, that really never stood much of a chance of affecting change at the polls — and probably never even really intended to. In fact, in some cases, fringe parties exist only as a punchline.
These five political parties, from both the U.S. and abroad, could never have really connected with their respective electorates:
Canadian Extreme Wrestling Party (CEWP), Canada
Any organization that determines its party leadership through a wrestling battle royale has to have at least some interesting ideas.
Founded in Canada by a group of wrestlers in 1999, the CEWP managed to run a candidate for the Canadian Parliament in 2000, Ed White, also known by his professional moniker, Moondog King. The party touched on a range of issues including gun control, the environment, national security and foreign affairs.
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White lost the race in 2000 and re-ran in 2004 with a different party.
Established in Antwerp as a protest party, the NEE was established for voters who wanted to express general dissatisfaction with the entrenched political parties in Brussels. In other words, a vote for the NEE, which means "no" in Dutch, wasn't a vote for a particular platform, but instead a ballot cast against all others.
With that spirit in mind, the party doesn't so much campaign for votes as it does to draw attention, often through satire, to what it sees as dysfunctional system. The group's most famous stunt took place in 2007, which mocked other politicians' efforts to promise jobs to win voters' favor. The NEE candidate for a legislative seat that election, Tania Derveaux, posed naked on a billboard and promising to give 40,000 "jobs," a tacit nod to a certain sex act.
The group has never won a seat in an election.
The Guns and Dope Party, The United States
For a political group that supports a combination that virtually guarantees a short membership roll, you might be surprised to learn that the Guns and Dope Party has a website. Not surprisingly, this party has technically never fielded a candidate for office. (The party's candidate for president? "Everybody.")
The party's platform is clear right from its name. The group advocates a hands-off stance when it comes to firearms and narcotics. Ostriches, for reasons that may be unclear to any non-member, should also be given equal rights, according to the group's website.
The Guns and Dope Party sprouted up in California for the special election for governor in 2003 following the recall of Gov. Gray Davis. Robert Anton Wilson ran as a write-in candidate, so the party never actually appeared on the ballot.
Union of Conscientiously Work-Shy Elements, Denmark
This fringe party holds the distinction of being the only one on this list to get a candidate elected.
Founded in 1994 by comedian Jacob Haugaard, the party surprised everyone when Haugaard won a seat in parliament and served a four-year term.
The Rhinoceros Party, Canada
Having an animal mascot certainly isn't unheard of in the American political system, the dominant parties represented by an elephant and a donkey. So the Rhinoceros Party isn't off to a bad start in name alone.
Learn a bit more about the party's platform and you'll find out why it's probably the most outrageous political organization ever devised. Stretching over a period of three decades, the Rhinoceros Party support all sorts of absurd policies ranging from build nuclear power plants for every homeowner and making illiteracy Canada's third official language after French and English.
The organization disbanded in 1993 after a law placed electoral requirements on any political group seeking official recognition as a party.
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