In the year 1898, the French anarchist and satirist, Zo d’Axa, decided there were so many phoney asses in his country’s National Assembly that they were scandalously devaluing the currency.
So he decided to present to the electorate a real ass, a pure, genuine, thoroughbred, white donkey that he baptized NUL [None], and invited the people to:
'Vote Nul and make your voices heard!'
In a series of articles Zo solicited his compatriots to support Nul as their elected representative:
'In our endeavours we have tried to find a master that no one dreamed of. .... Now, the honour has fallen on me to present the Master of the People. Please be sympathetic. The ass for whom I seek the suffrage from you, my fellow citizens, is a most charming accomplice. A loyal and excellently shod donkey with a silky coat, delicate hamstring, and a most beauteous voice.'
The day of the election arrived, and lo! from atop the hill of Montmartre, Nul swept forward, imperiously seated on a chariot, like Julius Caesar on a triumph through Rome. Escorting him were Zo and a company of his loyal supporters. Zo later described the proud moment as 'the ass paraded through the streets, past walls decked with banners and placards'.
Proclamations were handed our to the gathering crowds exalting them to....
'Think, dear citizens. You know that your elected representatives deceive you, have deceived you, will continue to deceive you. ... Therefore, vote for Nul! Vote for an ass!'
The spectators laughed and applauded! Women threw flowers! Men doffed their hats! The procession continued through the Latin Quarter and finally arrived at the Senate, where it was greeted with rapturous applause from the university students.
Then, at around 3 p.m., the atmosphere changed. A sinister cloud appeared above them in the form of the police, as ever taking the law into their own hands. The officers erected a barrier at the end of the Boulevard St. Michel. Then the officer in charge ordered Zo to lead Nul to the nearest police station.
But it was too late! The revolution had begun! The crowd smashed their way through the barrier and marched to the Palais de Justice, the Law Courts.
Sadly, it was the moment that the police had been waiting for. They pounced, grabbed Nul's chariot, and led the people's would-be anointed representative away.
Zo was philosophical:
'Like a vile politician the animal had gone sour. The police towed Nul away, the Establishment guiding him. ... For the moment Nul was only a candidate like any other. The police station opened its wide doors and the ass was with his friends.'
The forces of order had prevailed. The Revolution was over.