Header Image Source: Wikicommons
Stakes rarely get higher than they do in parliament. Constitutions are drafted and entire nations future’s forged by the people in those strongholds of democracy. With feelings running so high, it’s perhaps unsurprising that some fists may fly.
Only the most truly pacifistic of us can solemnly say that they have never wanted to punch a politician, slap a senator or lay hands on a legislator. The following ten fights in parliament prove that the honourable representatives are far from immune to that feeling.
In 2012 the Ukrainian parliament sat in what was the be the first test of the strength of the alliance that President Viktor Yanukovich had managed to muster. Unfortunately, none of his new allies could decide who would speak first.
When multiple members of different parties approached the stand at once, all hell broke loose.
When this particular incident happened Vitaly Klitschko (the three-time world heavyweight boxing champion) sat in parliament leading his party UDAR, which means PUNCH in Ukrainian.
You have to wonder just how angry you have to be to get involved in a fight with Klitschko in the room, but unlike nearly everyone else, he remained calm.
1B: Ukraine 2
Less of a mass brawl and more of a bout for Klitschko to be proud of, the following video shows two centre-right Ukrainian MPs battling it out in the hallway over an anti-corruption bill.
And there are more. Ukraine never quite seems to settle down.
Like Shakespeare’s Falstaff, who is so funny he is the cause of wit in others, Ukraine’s parliament is so notorious that they have been the cause of violence in others.
In the above video Georgian Parliamentarians brawl over whether or not to support Ukrainian integration with the Europe Union.
But Georgia doesn’t always need Ukraine to fight over, sometimes they’re perfectly capable of dealing with internal struggles the same way, and at christmas no less.
Fights in the Taiwanese Parliament are nothing newsworthy. More than a few times a year, sometimes as often as just days apart, hair is pulled and punches and water are thrown.
During one notable incident in May 2006:
Then opposition Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) legislator Wang Shu-hui snatched a written proposal and shoved it into her mouth to prevent voting on allowing direct transportation links with Mainland China. Ruling party members tried to force her to cough it up by pulling her hair. She later spat it out but tore it up.Cindy Sui, BBC News
However in July 2017 things turned up a notch.
What should have been a civil debate about infrastructure spending turned into a two day long riot.
Not to be outdone by the Taiwanese, just two months later, in September 2017 the Ugandan parliament had their own two day long rumble.
The lawmakers couldn’t come to an agreement about the presidential age limit. Some people wanted the age cap of 75 to stay, others wanted it gone.
What followed was crazy. More than just kicks and punches, there were microphone stands being used as clubs, and at least two members of the house had to be carried out after collapsing.
Whatever happened in the violence, the bill became law. It allows incumbent President Yoweri Museveni to run for a sixth presidential term in 2021, when he’ll be 76.
This headline fight happened in 2009, before Czechia changed its name from the Czech Republic in 2016.
Things get started when presidential advisor Miroslav Macek pauses his speech to “settle some private business”, which consists of smacking health minister David Rath on the back of his head.
Tensions boil over around the 45 second mark in the video, when the two descend into a full-on fist fight. Macek insisted Rath insulted his wife. Rath called it a political attack.
Turkey has had more than their fair share of parliamentary punch ups, as a quick youtube search will show you, but six months after President Erdogan’s crackdown following a failed coup, blood was really running hot.
In attempts to consolidate control Erdogan had introduced a bill expanding Presidential powers that was being debated in the Turkish Parliament.
Afraid too much power would end up in Erdogan’s hands, the opposition’s Özgür Özel the ruling party: “You are trying to destroy yourselves. We won’t let it happen.”
Despite this, he couldn’t prevent them destroying each other. Shortly afterwards a huge brawl erupted that left broken noses more than a little damaged pride in its wake.
7: South Korea
When it comes to violence in parliament, the South Koreans are rarely outdone. It is an annual event in Seoul.
In 2008, the opposition party used sledgehammers, chisels, and crowbars to break through the barricade of furniture created by the ruling party and oppose a free trade agreement with the USA.
In 2009, during a debate about media laws, the opposition party built the barricade this time. The results was intense violence that sent at least one lawmaker to hospital.
In 2010 an attempt to introduce free school meals led to more barricades and brave politicians charging once more into the breach.
In 2011, they brought tear gas.
But the finest move perhaps ever pulled off in a parliamentary brawl is what brings us to South Korea.
A tomoe nage, or monkey flip, is easy enough to do in a choreographed wrestle:
But quite a different thing when facing a hostile opponent in the highest chamber of your country’s parliament:
The Nepalese Parliament descended into anarchy in January 2015 as discussions on the framework of the country’s new constitution took a savage turn.
While the opposition Maoists want the Himalayan nation divided into states roughly along ethnic lines, the ruling party think that would be too fractured for an already poor and divided nation.
Pushing forward with a draft that ignored the opposition’s requests was not the peaceful parliamentary process you’d expect when one side holds a firm majority. Instead microphones and shoes filled the air, chairs were smashed and tables raised in violence that hospitalised three.
The constitution came into effect in six months later.
After 70 years of pacifism Japan was faced with a choice. Should it intervene if an allied nation is under attack, or should it stick to its peaceful ways?
The decision to allow violence as an option for the Japanese armed forces caused tension all over the country. Protestors came out daily and in huge numbers in a show of feeling rare in the normally introverted nation.
With opinions on the matter so strong it was only a matter of time before boiling point was reached, as it did in parliament when it came to vote on the bill.
Despite the protests, the bill was passed into law by the Japanese Upper House days after.
10: All Around the world
You will surely have realised by now that parliamentary fights aren’t a rarity at all.
As many times as it happens, there will always be an unsatiated appetite somewhere eager to see some more politicians get punched.
Until then, we have this great montage Time magazine put together:
Also, anyone wanting to stay up to date on parliamentary fights around the world should definitely give this blog a look.