Dear compatriots, elections are nigh and the new political parties laws are out and it is time those of you who are thinking of presenting themselves in the next elections start thinking about what the hell they should do to win the democratic game. MnarviDZ has been deploring the utter lack of amusement which renders our national political life rather boring on top of being useless. In the past and up to the early 90’s, we did have glimpses of amusing candidates for the elections and during the single party epoch, there were many actually funny jokes. Not anymore. It’s all gone stale. I am quite grateful however when I compare Algeria with other Arab countries, because at least in Algeria, anybody can say anything about even the biggest fish in the pond. I do think we are quite advanced in this compared to other Arab countries. Of course, when you contemplate the actual discourse behind the derogatory or belittling language used you will not find much profound substance other than venting-off frustration (and this is why such things are tolerated by the political elite). But the ability to vent-off is nice in any case, although it erodes constructive creativity perhaps? What do you think?
Anyway, in this post, I will give some of the satirical candidates who presented themselves in elections in various countries (most seem to be from the US). The aim is to inspire you to conceive your own satirical election manifesto and post it here to get a general feel for the chances of success (by sizing-up the competition). So here are some examples from history to inspire you (you can find loads more on here):
1) Ferdinand Lop (France): campaigned for the office during the 1930-50s. The issues he advocated included eliminating poverty (but only after 10 PM), extending the Boulevard St. Michel to the English Channel with a comfort station every 50 yards, nationalising brothels, providing an annual allowance to the widow of the unknown soldier, and relocating Paris to the countryside so that its residents could enjoy fresher air. He called this program of reform “Lopeotherapy.” When he campaigned he was often flanked by his various Ministers: the Minister of Information, Propaganda and Cults, the Minister of Folklore and Sex, the Minister of Tobacco and Health, the Minister of the General Situation, the Minister of Justice, Sports and Leisure, and the Minister of the Fight against the Opposition. His supporters (principally Latin Quarter students) called themselves Le Front Lopulaire and derisively referred to his opponents as “anti-Lopes”. Even his opponents acknowledged his bravery during the German occupation when he spoke out against the Nazis and Vichy. Once, when the Gestapo raided one of his meetings, he remarked, as he climbed out a back window to escape: “We do not retreat. We advance backward for strategic purposes.” When Lop died in 1974, his obituary recalled that, in addition to being one of the Latin Quarter’s best known “characters,” he had also been arrested by British police in 1959 after saying he was going to marry Princess Margaret. Here is a video of Lope.
2) Stephen Colbert (USA): Comedian host of The Colbert Report announced in October 2007 that he was running for President. Uniquely, he was going to seek both the Republican and Democratic nomination. However, he would only run in his home state of South Carolina. In explaining why he should run for President, Colbert said, “it’s clear that the voters are desperate for a white, male, middle-aged, Jesus-trumpeting alternative.” He also announced his intention to “bring truthiness to the ’08 race.” However, Colbert was careful to distinguish between running for President and being President: “I don’t want to be president. I want to run for president. There’s a difference.” Eventually he abandoned his plans to run as a Republican due to the $35,000 filing fee. He paid the $2500 Democratic filing fee, but was excluded from the ballot due to the South Carolina Democratic Party’s decision that he was not a “serious candidate.” Colbert subsequently ended his campaign. However, during his brief campaign opinion polls had put him ahead of candidates such as Bill Richardson, Chris Dodd, and Dennis Kucinich.
3) Ficus for Congress (USA): In April 2000, filmmaker Michael Moore sent out a warning to incumbent congressmen that they would no longer be able to expect to run uncontested for re-election. He called upon Americans to vote instead for a potted plant. Specifically, a Ficus (“a genus of tropical shrub or tree with glossy, leathery leaves, often found indoors as an ornamental”). Moore pointed out the advantages of a Ficus. All it needs is air, sunlight, water, and a little fertilizer (which the Ficus “should find plenty of in Washington”). In addition, “I’ve seen a lot of politicians lie, cheat, steal, and use improper syntax. I have never met one who can perform photosynthesis.”
4) Yetta Bronstein (USA): A 48-year-old Bronx housewife, ran for President in 1964 and 1968 as the candidate for the Best Party. Her slogans were “Vote for Yetta and watch things get better” and “Put a mother in the White House.” Her proposals included national bingo, self-fluoridation, placing a suggestion box on the White House fence, and printing a nude picture of Jane Fonda on postage stamps “to ease the post office deficit and also give a little pleasure for six cents to those who can’t afford Playboy magazine.” She promised she would staff her cabinet with “people who have failed in life and learned to live with it.” “Why should you vote for me?” her campaign literature asked. “Think of all the things your mother did for you — the feeding, changing, washing, ironing, lying for you, crying for you. Now you can pay her back by putting me in office. I will represent all your mothers and act in their behalf for you.” Yetta never made a campaign appearance, conducting the campaign entirely by mail and phone. Nevertheless, the Bronstein for President campaign was widely covered by the media. The reason for Yetta’s lack of personal appearances was that she didn’t exist. She was the fictional creation of hoaxer Alan Abel. His wife Jeanne pretended to be Yetta on the phone. Abel used a picture of his own mother as a front for the hoax.
5) Tiao the Chimp (Brazil): Was a resident of the Rio de Janeiro zoo when, in 1988, he was put forward as a candidate in the mayoral election by the Brazilian Banana Party (a creation of the comedic group Casseta & Planeta). The slogan of his campaign was “Vote Monkey – Get Monkey.” Tiao was known for his bad temper. He often threw dirt and spit water at visitors. Nevertheless, his candidacy proved very popular. He recieved over 400,000 write-in votes in the election, which placed him third (out of 12 candidates). When he died in 1996, the mayor of Rio de Janeiro ordered an eight-day mourning period in his honor.
6) Boston Curtis (USA): On September 13, 1938 Boston Curtis won the post of Republican precinct committeeman in Milton, Washington. Fifty-one votes were cast for him. Those who voted for him were later surprised to discover he was a long-eared docile brown mule (this reminds me of the Algerian film “Carnaval fi dechra“). Boston Curtis’s election victory was engineered by Milton’s Democratic mayor, Kenneth Simmons. Simmons had taken the mule down to the courthouse and placed its hoofprint on all the documents necessary to register it to run. The hoofprint appeared on the records as a smeared mark. Simmons also signed his own name to the documents as a witness. Simmons came up with the name “Boston Curtis” by combining the mule’s name of “Boston” with the name of its owner, Mrs. Charles Curtis. Simmons gave two reasons for the stunt. First, he wanted to embarrass the Republican party. (The joke was that the Republicans had voted in a cousin of the Democratic party’s donkey symbol.) He also wanted to demonstrate the inefficiency of the primary system by proving that voters often “know not whom they support.”
[Source: The Museum of Hoaxes]
I think we Algerians can do much better that this! Especially when you consider that there is nothing in our election laws that requires that candidates should be human.