Sunday, April 22, 2007

a man on a horse to make everthing right

A Turkish newspaper, Sabah, has an article on the election in France in which this photo appears:

The article, from Reuters, is about Nicolas Sarkozy, an ultra-conservative candidate for President of France in today's election. You can read about the election and his candidacy in any news source. Here's a link to the Wikipedia artcle.

The photo of Sarkozy on his horse caught my eye because, while outsider candidates whose appeal is more emotional than rational crop up from time to time in every democracy, the man-on-a-horse is a particularly French symbol. It was Georges Boulanger who, on his black horse, caught the attention of French voters at the end of the nineteenth century and whose followers, Boulangists, seemed on the verge of carrying out a successful coup when Boulanger caused the movement to unravel at the time of the Presidential elections of 1889. The disintegration was messy as the man dithered about how fully to commit himself, then ran away when accused of a crime, and finally shot himself in despair on the grave of his recently-deceased mistress. If you're thinking "how very French," well there may be something in that.

Wikipedia tells the story well. The Columbia enclopedia has a typically concise summary. You can use your favorite search engine to find other accounts.

Here is Boulanger and a imaginative reconstruction of his suicide

{Click image to see full size. Source}

Addendum: I spent much too much time trying to track down Boulanger. How do you find information about the political man-on-a-horse phenomenon when "man-on-horse" and variants on France, election, coup, etc. don't work? I finally remembered Boulanger was the name and that did the trick. I also spent some futile time trying to find an image of the man on his horse.

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