Sophie McBain picks up politics, business and international development stories from around the globe

RSS

The parrot who registered as a local candidate in Belarus, and other political animals

Yasha the parrot joins an elite menagerie of animals that have entered politics.

New Statesman
This parrot hasn't expressed any political ambitions yet, but one of his feathered friends has. Photo:Getty.

An activist in Belarus has registered his pet parrot, Yasha, as a candidate in a local council election. The BBC reports that Yasha’s application, including his photoshopped ID card was accepted, but his owner, Kanstantsin Zhukouski, withdrew it shortly afterwards.

Zhukouski said he pulled out because “being a regional councillor isn’t very prestigious”, but perhaps he also wanted to avoid a penalty. He had registered Yasha to expose the futility of Ukrainian politics, the BBC said.

Funnily enough, Yasha isn’t the only animal to have entered local politics. Last year, Morris the cat put himself forward to be Mayor of Xalapa in Mexico, under the slogan “tired of voting for rats? Vote for a cat”. His Facebook page has almost 179,000 likes – more than any other candidate running in Xalapa. Morris also inspired the political career of a number of other animals across Mexico: a donkey in Ciudad Juárez, a dog in Oaxaca and a chicken in Tepic. "It is important to vote for the registered candidates," the head of the electoral commission felt compelled to say.

In Alaska, one cat was even more successful in his political career. Stubbs was elected mayor of Talkeetna in Alaska when he was just a kitten, and has held the post for over 16 years. He reportedly only drinks water out of a wine glass spiked with catnip. Last year, Stubbs was attacked by an insubordinate dog, but I understand he’s still in office.

Animals don't always behave so very differently from humans in office. In France, a Dachshund named Saucisse (sausage) received four per cent of the vote in Marseilles 2001 municipal elections. Like many a struggling politician, he later tried to boost his profile by entering the French equivalent of the big brother house in 2009. 

In the UK, the closest we’ve got to voting for animals is voting for people dressed as animals. Professor Pongoo, the climate change activist Mike Ferrigan dressed in a penguin suit, received more votes in Edinburgh’s 2012 local council elections than the Scottish Lib Dem candidate Stuart Bridges. Ten years earlier, H’Angus the monkey, (independent candidate Stuart Drummond in a monkey outfit), was elected Mayor of Hartlepool. He lost his seat in 2012.