15 Feb 2014

Bash for questions: the worst parliamentary punch-ups

Turkey’s parliament sees violent scenes as members of the ruling and opposition party clash – not for the first time. We look at other debates where the battle of ideas has turned physical.

Members of Turkey’s ruling AK party clashed with the opposition Republican People’s Party during a debate over a draft law to give the government more control over the appointment of judges.

In January a member of parliament was hospitalised during a corruption row that rocked Prime Minister Recep Ayyip Erdogan’s government.

The ugly scenes in Ankara were not isolated incidents – the parties have repeatedly clashed in recent years.

In February 2012 AK Party MP Muhittin Aksak was pictured pulling on the tie of his rival Mahmut Tanal from the Republican People’s Party (CHP), and in 2007 scenes resembling a boxing match were broadcast around the world.

Ukraine has been rocked by violent protests in recent months, but things have not been much better inside the national parliament in Kiev where disagreements often spill over into punch-ups.

Last March a debate over Kiev’s mayoral election descended into chaos, with deputies brawling on the floor of the house.

In December 2010, the speaker of the house produced a chain and crowbar which he says were used in a fight that hospitalised five politicians after a row over former Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko.

Watch: fighting erupts in Ukraine's parliament 

The Italian parliament is another scene of heated debates that can spill over into violent clashes. On January 30 MPs in the lower house broke into fights when the speaker interruped an attempted fillibuster.

The powers used by the speaker were unprecedented in the debate on boosting the country’s commercial banks. The far-right opposition Brothers of Italy party reponded by showering the ruling party with chocolate coins.

In 2011 a fist fight (pictured above) broke out during a debate over pension reforms, in which members of the house were seen grabbing each others’ throats.

Parliamentary violence is not a wholly European phenomena. Here we see Bolivian opposition congressman Fernando Rodriguez battling with a rival indigenous deputy of President Evo Morales’ party.

The brawl kicked off during a 2009 hunger strike by Morales, who demanded Bolivia’s Congress pass an electoral law that could make it easier for him to win control of the legislature.

In neighbouring Venezuela there were similar scenes last year, leaving one MP bruised and bleeding.

Watch: Fight breaks out in Venezuelan parliament

South Korea

Politicians in South Korea’s parliament are immune from criminal prosecution and there have been a number of punchs-ups over the last decade.

In December 2010 there were chaotic scenes after the ruling Grand National Party forced the 2011 budget through, without the opposition parties.

The opposition then tried to physically prevent GNP MPs from the £174 billion bill, one GNP member was brought to hospital after being struck in the head with a gavel.