Politics is always a touchy subject, and it can ruin any good conversation any day of the week. People feel passionately about certain issues and hold fast to certain ideas, and sometimes that passion can boil over into heated debates…or even physical altercations. But sometimes, even those who are supposed to remain cool, calm and polished under pressure might boil over. Even politicians might feel so passionately about their politics that things turn violent and ugly. Sometimes, it even happens in front of all the cameras and spectators, because it happens right in the middle of Congress, Senate, Parliament and political places that are supposed to be prestigious.
This is what it looks like when politics stops being a polished, precise game of words and speeches and turns into ugly brawls involving fists, thrown objects and even blood. When politicians lose their cool, they really lose their cool — and results are pretty shocking to see. Respected legislators just don’t look the same while they’re throwing punches at each other.
Step into the craziest political brawls, and take a look at these photos that you’ve got to see to believe. All these photos are real, and all the incidents that caused them are going to surprise you.
20. Turkey Debates Police Powers
This is Ankara, Turkey, during a parliamentary debate. The guy on the floor is deputy Orhan Duzgun, of the Republican People’s Party. These lawmakers were discussing a piece of legislation to boost police powers, and the heated debate turned into an out-and-out brawl. This photo was taken February 19, 2015. Those against the bill said it would turn Turkey into an authoritarian state. The fight broke out after three hours of arguing. Everyone was stressed by then, and when the deputy speaker Sadik Yakut mispronounced the name of a member of the opposition, the People’s Democratic Party, everything erupted. This is that moment. The fight lasted about 10 minutes, causing only minor injuries.
19. Violent Discussion in Taiwan
Things got really out of hand in Taipei, Taiwan on July 8, 2010. This is a brawl between the Opposition Democratic Progressive Party and the Nationalist Party, and this is the Legislative Yuan. The Legislative Yuan is the legislative body of the Republic of China, one of their 5 government branches. “Yuan” actually means branch. The fight broke out during debates involving a trade pact with China, a particularly heated election issue at the time. Two people went to the hospital after it was over. The fight got truly intense. People threw cups of water and other objects around the room before it was finally broken up.
18. Hot Button Issue in South Korea
The politicians who are members of the South Korean parliament are immune from criminal prosecution. This is the result of that. This particular fight happened on July 22, 2009 when the ruling party wanted to pass a bill easing restrictions on the media. Things got violent the moment the deputy speaker announced the bill, with members of parliament hurling objects at him when he began to read. The bill was later passed after everything cooled back down. The woman in this photo is the speaker of parliament, and she is being forcibly and literally removed from her seat. South Korean parliament becomes violent regularly. Lawmaking here is a dangerous business.
17. Economic Debates Dissolve in Italy
Rome was an empire when civilization was still relatively young, and this city’s long history serves as an inspiration for the world. Maybe not on this particular day, October 26, 2011. At the center of the action are Claudio Barbato of the Futuro e Libert party and Fabrio Ranieri from the Northern League. This is Rome’s parliament, and they were discussing an economic reform program moments before this battle began. Parliament was suspended following the fight, which involved several members of the lower house. Parliamentary discussions sometimes turn violent in Italy. This is why so many people avoid talking politics.
16. Trash Talking in Turkey
Things really got out of hand in January 2017 during this session of parliament in Turkey. One female MP handcuffed herself to the rostrum in protest against a reform plan on the table. MPs are committee members who are allowed to attend sessions of parliament. The first woman’s actions sparked a full-out brawl between female MPs in the room. Two were taken to the hospital following the fight. Television footage caught all the brutal details of the melee, which got truly violent and ended up doing considerable damage to the rostrum. Violent parliamentary debates in Turkey are not uncommon, as the country appears more than once on this list.
15. Pacifist Debate Turns Violent in Japan
It’s almost too ironic, but this is what happened when the Japanese parliament engaged in a discussion about ending pacifism September 14, 2015. Legislators were scheduled to vote on a bill to end Japan’s policy of pacifism in international conflicts. The discussion became a massive brawl involving dozens of people. There was even a pile up as parliament members attempted to grab the chairman’s microphone in order to prevent a vote on the bill. The bill would allow the Japanese military to defend allies overseas, even if the homeland itself is not under attack. This bill addressed Article 9 of the Japanese Constitution, an article added after WWII.
14. Security Clashes with Freedom Fighters in South Africa
This is a meeting of parliament in South Africa, and it’s a pretty big ruckus. The Economic Freedom Fighters and parliament security came to blows during the session in Cape Town. The Freedom Fighters were ultimately ejected from the parliament chamber, though clearly not without protest. The Freedom Fighters are in red, security in white. The EFF are considered a far left-wing group, and they have caused disturbances in Parliament in the past through protests, disruption and sometimes violent reactions, as this image shows. Maybe it has something to do with the hot weather in South Africa that causes tempers to flare.
13. Things Get Ugly in Mexico
Presidential elections can get pretty crazy in Mexico, too. This image was taken during a particularly angry debate during a particularly heated election cycle in Mexico. Things got violent in Congress in Mexico City on November 28, 2006, days before the inauguration of President Felipe Calderon. Two opposing political groups, PAN and PRD, came to blows when they physically battled each other in order to get to the podium and take control of the room. The parties tried to physically prevent each other from speaking, and things turned really ugly. Note the Mexican flag hanging in the background of the photo. Ah, politics.
12. Drawing Blood in the Ukraine
And this time, the expression is literal. This bloody brawl occurred during a budget debate in the Ukraine Parliament in 2014. Parliament members began throwing punches after MPs, committee members representing the opposition, interrupted the budget debate. They were attempting to block the vote to approve the bill, and things clearly got very out of hand. The 2014 budget was ultimately passed after everything calmed down and everybody got themselves cleaned up. While bloody noses don’t happen every day in the Ukrainian parliament, violent brawls like this are not at all uncommon. You might be surprised how not at all uncommon they are. Keep reading…
11. Back to the Ukraine
And here we are in Ukraine’s parliament again. Now the date is May 24, 2012, and this poor guy is getting the high school bully treatment as he is literally upended during a really heated discussion. This brawl also got bloody when a debate discussing a bill involving the use of the Russian language turned physical. The bill would allow the use of Russian in courts and hospitals in the Russian-speaking areas of the Ukraine. Clearly, the debate didn’t really go too well. Deputies were brought in to halt the session and get things back under control. But in the Ukrainian parliament, “control” is a relative term.
10. Okay, Don’t Join Politics in the Ukraine
Yep, it’s Ukraine again. This happened in early December 2012 when members of the newly-elected Parliament arrived to be sworn in. Chaos ensued when opposing party members attempted to physically prevent the new members from being sworn in, saying their political views had changed since the election. Things got so chaotic, the new Prime Minister and Speaker of Parliament were not able to be sworn in. Or maybe they were just running for their lives. One person had their ear torn in the ruckus, and several members of Parliament were ejected for brawling. The doors were blocked to prevent more people from joining the fray, and the whole thing was broadcast live on the Ukraine’s parliament channel. Which, clearly, ought to be the most popular channel in the country. Can you imagine if C-Span looked like this?
9. Police Called in for Macedonia’s Parliament
This photo was taken on Christmas Eve, 2012, while Macedonia’s parliament discussed the upcoming 2013 budget. What you see here are members of the opposition party, the Social-Democratic Alliance of Macedonia, and deputies in the chamber who are attempting to protect Vesna Bendevska from Parliament security. The security force is trying to protect Parliament’s Speaker, Trajko Veljanovski. Budget discussions can get pretty out of control in Macedonia. The presence of the Christmas tree in the corner really makes this whole situation that much sadder. Police officers came into parliament in full riot gear in order to break up the violence and calm everyone down to end this brawl.
8. Fiery Trade Debates in South Korea
Hopefully, this is an extreme example of debates gone wrong in the South Korean parliament. After politicians used a sledgehammer to break into the parliament chamber, things got really bad. The chamber was barricaded by the ruling party during a discussion of the National Assembly. They were discussing a free-trade agreement with the U.S. when this happened in 2008. Violence erupted outside the chamber as members of the Democratic party tried to get into the room. After they managed to get through the doors, they found that the furniture had been moved against the doors as another barrier. Yeah, it was insane. And that’s not even the craziest part. Things really went off the rails when the fire extinguishers came out, and it wasn’t the politicians holding them. The security guards started spraying the extinguishers at the politicians trying to get into the Parliament chamber, because that’s how wild things get in South Korea. See? This is why people don’t like politics.
7. All’s Not Well in Alabama
This is Alabama state Senator Charles Bishop, Republican, on the right. He is punching Sen. Lowell Barron, Democrat, on the floor the Senate. This photo was taken June 7, 2007 at the Statehouse in Alabama. The Senate was engaged in a particularly tense session and tempers were running hot when, according to Bishop, Barron insulted him. The punch was Bishop’s response to that remark. Barron was uninjured by the brawl, which was quickly broken up by the other Senators in the room. The topic on the floor revolved around an election reform bill banning the transfer of campaign donations between action committees.
6. …Or Maybe Politicians Just Like to Fight in Alabama
This is Charles Shaw, the mayor of Alexander City, Alabama, and Councilman Tony Goss. And as you can see, they are violently fighting. This photo was taken in April 2016 when Shaw and Goss were talking about city finances. Both politicians were rushed to the emergency room after the fight, and Shaw turned himself into the county sheriff. He and his wife, the First Lady of Alexander City, were arrested and charged with assault in the third degree. While exiting the prison, Shaw stopped to answer questions from the press. He said he snapped after Goss made disparaging comments about his wife.
5. A Day at the Legislative Council of Hong Kong
This is the Legislative Council of Hong Kong, and as you can see they feel pretty strongly about the issues. The guy with the glasses in the middle is Sixtus Leung, and he’s being restrained by security. He stepped up in an attempt to recite his oath in the Legislative Chamber. He had previously been barred from the chamber, but forced his way in to read his swearing-in oath. Leung was joined by Yau Wai Ching, and both managed to finish their oath before a huge scuffle broke out. A total of 6 guards ended up in the hospital, and police were called to the scene to bring order back to the chamber. The two councilmembers were in a questionable state of eligibility to serve the country when they entered the chamber.
4. Fighting Over Food in India
This is India’s parliament, and this happened during a particularly contentious time in the politics of the country in 2015. A few days prior to this brawl, a Muslim man living in India was murdered by mob for allegedly eating beef. Cows are sacred in the Hindu religion, and India is primarily Hindu. During this session of parliament, members of the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party began punching and shoving a member of the opposition Muslim party when the subject of eating beef was brought up. This type of physical brawling is a rare event in Indian Parliament, and sparked a lot of outrage among members. Hours after the fight, Prime Minister Narendra Modi spoke in favor of religious unity.
3. Enormous Brouhaha in Taiwan
Yeah, things get pretty crazy pretty much all the time in Taiwanese politics. Parliament is practically Thunderdome here. But even by Taiwan Parliament standards, this battle was pretty epic. This happened in August 2013 during a vote for a referendum regarding a new power plant in the county. Nuclear power is a very touchy topic in Taiwan, and has been even more hotly-debated since Japan’s 2011 nuclear disaster. Punches and lots of water were thrown as Parliament exploded into violent protests and outbursts. Protesting legislators brought in signs and screamed chants in an attempt to block the day’s business. This was all pretty futile, as the ruling party in favor of the plant had a big majority in Parliament at the time.
2. Yes, It’s Ukraine Again
It’s pretty well-established that Ukraine Parliament is actually Fight Club, Wrestlemania and a Russian soccer match all rolled into one hot mess of violent disagreements. This photo wasn’t even taken during a regular session of Parliament. There is no issue being debated on the floor, no bill presently before the body that is being discussed. This happened right before President Viktor Yushchenko arrived at Parliament to make his annual speech, an event not unlike the State of the Union Address in the U.S. Here’s one member of Parliament choking another simply because they ran into each other at the event on February 9, 2006. Seriously, and this can’t be stressed enough, do not go into politics in Ukraine.
1. And the Not-So-Honorable Historic Mention
This isn’t really a photo, but it is an illustration of a very real event that’s really very embarrassing. It depicts something that occurred in the U.S. Senate in May, 1856. It started with Sen. Charles Sumner (MA) and his speech, “The Crime Against Kansas.” The 5-hour, two-day address revolved around the Kansas-Nebraska Act which allowed citizens of newly-created U.S. territories to vote for or against slavery. Sumner absolutely hated the law and personally called out several southern Senators during the speech, particularly Andrew Butler (SC). Sumner lit into him, and Butler wasn’t even there.
Preston Brooks, a Congressman from South Carolina and Butler’s cousin, heard about the speech from Capitol Hill chatter and confronted Sumner at his desk in the Old Senate Chamber. Brooks armed himself with a cane, which he used to beat Sumner mercilessly. The cane actually broke, and in moments was covered in blood. Sumner was knocked unconscious. Sumner was so badly injured, he could not return to the Senate for four years. He was re-elected and his seat stayed empty until he was able to return. Brooks was fined $300 for his role in the attack. His supporters in South Carolina paid the fine for him.
What? You didn’t really think American politics was any better than all those other countries, did you?
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