In the United States, voters have grown accustomed to selecting a candidate from one of the only two dominant political parties: Democrat or Republican. But there are actually three others in this country that are also considered major parties. With more than 75,000 registered members, these are the Constitution Party, Green Party and Libertarian Party.
In the American presidential system, third parties struggle mightily to gain any foothold, (sorry Pirate Party) maybe one day their time will come. In most other democracies, including countries in Western Europe, parliamentary systems allow for fringe parties to win seats in the government.
The debate over which system is better will surely never end. Truly, its just a matter of preference. We are lucky to have both and be able to argue over which is better. The lesser-known parties provide a lighthearted distraction from the serious business of politics and the reality of how laws, like sausage, are really made.
UNITED STATES MARIJUANA PARTY
Founded in 2002 by activist Loretta Nall, this group wants to get high and rise in the polls as well. But seriously, the party platform revolves around ending the war on drugs and big surprise! legalizing marijuana.
This party was founded in 1869 and is the oldest third party still in existence in the U.S. The party with a camel as its symbol clearly reached its highest success with the passage of the 18th Amendment in 1919. Unfortunately for the teetotalers of the temperance movement, its popularity has declined steadily since and slid even further after the end of World War II. But it hasn’t given up: The group still holds conventions to nominate presidential candidates.
This group likes Russian-American writer Ayn Rands political philosophy so much that they became devotees. Its political platform was espoused in her essays and books Atlas Shrugged and The Fountainhead. Objectivists’ beliefs are a bit bizarre and existential, but basically the central tenets are that government infringes on individual rights, and the highest moral pursuit is ones own happiness or rational self-interest.
CANADIAN EXTREME WRESTLING PARTY
In 1999, this party held a wrestling match to determine its leader. The platform it adopted was extremely provincially protective of the homeland of eastern Canada (Newfoundland and the Atlantic provinces) and decidedly left of center. But one question: If a bear had been allowed to wrestle and had won, would it have then run for office?
This Italian political party was started in 1991 by two Italian porn stars, Moana Pozzi and Ilona Staller. It was originally a parody of the political process, but later became identified with a countercultural movement. Pozzi twice ran unsuccessfully for office; once for parliament and then for mayor of Rome.
PARTY OF THE FUTURE
This satirical Dutch party advocates for changes to drug policy and women’s right to go topless. Its platform has suggested creating a minister of partying, but generally just wants to have fun and more parties. Sadly, it has never won a seat in parliament.
BEER LOVERS PARTY OF RUSSIA AND POLAND
Both were begun shortly after the fall of communism, with the Russian group actually started analogously to the Poles. The countries had been under the control of the one-party states in the Soviet Union, and the Russian version advocated for protection of beer lovers interests. The Polish wing initially aimed to fight alcoholism by encouraging the country to partake of cultural beer drinking at English-style pubs instead of consuming vodka.
HAPPINESS REALIZATION PARTY
This group was started in 2009 by Ryuho Okawa as a way to offer the Japanese people a third option to the country’s two most-dominant parties. Silly name aside, this party has some serious goals. Among them is increasing Japans population, be more readily accepting of foreigners in the country and for the nation to take on more responsibility as a world leader.
WORK LESS PARTY
This Canadian party was created in British Columbia in 2003, though it has never won a seat in parliament. Its platform advocates for the rights of workers, including implementing a reduced workweek to 32 hours from 40, limiting the countrys carbon footprint and a minimum wage increase.
THE POLITICAL PARTY
Two comedians started this Norwegian party in 2001, but was not meant as satire. Its platform promised that elected representatives’ parliamentary votes would be based on how party members felt on a given issue. Party leaders said they would hold polls on a website to determine what position to take and suggested that if results were 60 percent for and 40 against, representatives would work in that ratio on an issue.
Noah Zuss is a reporter for TheBlot Magazine.