5. 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.
4. 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.
3. 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.
2. 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.
1. 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.