Political Party Hearty, Part II

The federal election looms, May 2. If you’re tired of the typical Green-Con-Lib-Newdem-Bloc options, there are fourteen other officially registered parties. Today, the second in DailyXY’s series of quick-guides to help you separate the pranks from the cranks (Part I here). How to best use, or abuse, your most fundamental democratic right is, as always, entirely up to you.

Part II: Animals, and Plants, and Pirates! Oh, My!

The Rhinoceros Party
A venerable name in Canadian politics, Rhinoceros. The first such satirical party was founded in 1963. The current one is the beast’s second incarnation, and it follows a half-century tradition of jokey, parodic and sometimes even funny political campaigns (this time, leader Francois Yo Gourd promises to bring smiles back to passport photos). The Rhinos aim to lighten the mood of politics, but sometimes the “humour” sounds dangerously close to genuine despair: This campaign ad features the line “Don’t you feel like you only get to choose the flavour by which the system will digest your hopes?” and shows a candidate absentmindedly pushing a disabled lesbian into traffic. Ha, ha?

Also, the Rhinos are only running two official candidates (from a slate of 22) outside the province of Quebec, which means that the bulk of the platforms/jokes — the website has a tab labelled “Bullshit” — aren’t easily accessible to non-French speakers.

DailyXY’s take: Running a party in a federal election that 1) is limited to only one province ?2) has relevancy to only a small fraction of Canadians, and 3) has no intention of actually governing Canada?… is actually a pretty sweet surrealist joke. Too bad we’ve heard it before.

The Marijuana Party
These guys literally have two policies:
1) Legalize marijuana.
2) Legalize revolution.

DailyXY’s take: Frankly, that’s twice as many policies as we were expecting. It makes the Crystal Meth Party, their traditional rivals, seem jumpy, unfocused and desperate by comparison.

The Pirate Party of Canada
Regardless of the goofy name, of all the alternative parties, these guys are probably the ones to keep an eye on. Why? Because they offer a serious set of coherent positions on a tight cluster of issues. Plus, look at the real political success of their sister parties elsewhere. The first Pirate Party was founded in Sweden in 2006, with policies that promote internet and information freedom, and liberal copyright reform. In the five years since, Pirate-affiliated candidates have been elected or appointed to various levels of government in Sweden, Switzerland, Germany, Denmark, the Czech Republic and Tunisia. Yes, that Tunisia. Despite decent awareness on the Canadian tubes about some core Pirate Party issues (incl. privacy, open government, net neutrality and “copyleft” reforms), the rising political power of internet organizing, and their sexy, international/Pastafarian appeal, the Canadian ship in this fleet is only launching ten candidates this time around. Overall, leader Mikkel Paulson is at the helm of a dinghy, rather than a man o’ war — for now.

DailyXY’s take: They not only have the best graphic design of all the parties (check out these T-shirts), the Pirates have the kind of youthful, social network-savvy appeal that all the mainstream parties seek — so watch for mainstream politicos to selectively steal their talking points, and attempt to recruit their brightest members. Sure to appeal to college students who are too cool for established political parties, but aren’t Ayn-Randy enough to be full blown Libertarians.


Image courtesy of timescan.

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