Getty Images / Chung Sung-Jun

Lawmakers Behaving Badly: A Guide To Parliamentary Brawls

When communication breaks down between lawmakers in other countries, they nix the discussions and go straight to fisticuffs.

By Elizabeth Hagedorn | February 21, 2015

Sure, our lawmakers can be petty and unproductive, but they’ve got nothing on these guys. (Video via The White House

(Video via RT,  The TelegraphSky News

After that show, Congress looks downright civilized. Turkey’s most recent parliamentary fistfight — the second of two this week alone— got us thinking, how do these shouting matches devolve into all-out brawls? 

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Legislative violence has a long tradition that arguably started with the assassination of Julius Caesar on the Senate floor. Today the fights are less gory, more YouTube-friendly. 

We’re looking at you, Rob Ford. (Video via CBC

But the basic motivations remains the same. A researcher at the Hertie School of Governance says there's a “credible commitment problem" nearly every time. 

In other words, there's a situation when neither side can trust the other to stick to its end of a bargain. These credible commitment problems tend to show up more in new democracies where political norms aren't yet fully developed. (Video via BBC

But no matter how old the democracy, at the end of the day, there's no counting on these lawmakers to stay on their best behavior. So, here are some tips should you find yourself in the middle of a parliamentary fistfight.  

Or Judo match, for that matter. (Video via YouTube / Oneshot112

Try shielding yourself with a seat cushion or umbrella, and if all else fails, take a page from the Brits' playbook. (Video via Live 9 TV, Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty

The House of Commons is designed to keep those seated at the government and opposition benches always “two sword lengths apart.”

This video includes images from Vincenzo Camuccini and Thomas Rowlandson

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