The Left Cartel of 1924

The Left Cartel of 1924

  • The “Grande Armée” of the National Bloc.

    DUKERCY pseudonym of Pierre MEJECAZE Pierre (1888 - 1945)

  • The Cartel of the Rights.

    DUKERCY pseudonym of Pierre MEJECAZE Pierre (1888 - 1945)

  • Franklin de Bouillon, Knight of the Reaction.

    DUKERCY pseudonym of Pierre MEJECAZE Pierre (1888 - 1945)

The “Grande Armée” of the National Bloc.

© Contemporary Collections

© Contemporary Collections

Franklin de Bouillon, Knight of the Reaction.

© Contemporary Collections

Publication date: March 2007

Historical context

The heyday of the Radical Socialist Party: the Cartel of the Left of 1924

In 1919, the French, traumatized by four years of total war, elected a so-called "horizon blue" chamber because many former combatants sat in it. This "Untraceable Chamber" enshrines the victory of the National Bloc, a coalition of right-wing and center parties who wish to prolong the wartime "Sacred Union". The period which opens is marked, on the right, by the will to rebuild a devastated country and by the relentlessness on the German adversary; on the left, by the desire to maintain peace and to settle the social question.

In 1919, Article 231 of the Treaty of Versailles made Germany responsible for the war and authorized France to claim reparations from it. Adding to the non-satisfaction of social demands, this decision provokes the thunderous rupture of the radical socialists of Herriot with the majority of the National Bloc.

The campaign for the elections of May 1924 was as violent as that of 1919, but this time it opposed left and right. The victory of the left is as clear as that of the National Bloc; but the composite majority is very fragile.

Image Analysis

Images of a torn France

The three posters by Dukercy - pseudonym of Pierre Mejecaze (1888-1945) - illustrate the reconfiguration of political forces at the end of the Great War. Two horizontal compositions punctuated the victorious electoral campaign of the Cartel des Gauche in 1924. The third poster was probably used during the election campaign of 1928.

The poster "The 'Grande Armée' of the National Bloc" is read left to right, starting with the epic title and ending with the final character commentary. The first of them, recognizable by his mustache and denounced by the newspaper title The Echo of Paris, is General de Castelnau (1851-1944), who took the head of the League of Patriots at the death of Barrès. The ent of the Republic Alexandre Millerand (1859-1943), him, brings up the rear of this heroic-comic manifestation. Their troop: the bigots, the Breton autonomists supported by the Communist Party (sickle and hammer on the sleeve), the big capital which threatens.

Blue (the right), yellow (anti-red) and black (high society clergy and fracs) also dominate the poster against the “Right Cartel”. Horizontal, it offers another reading order, from top to bottom and from the center to the periphery. This is evidenced by Millerand’s position at the heart of a motley coalition. The drawing here targets specific political figures, in particular: General de Castelnau; André Maginot (1877-1932), who stands out for his tall stature; Ernest Billiet (1873-1939), who lends his features to Haute Finance as president of the Union of Economic Interests, the main supporter of the National Bloc; Louis Marin (1871-1960), leader of the Republican Democratic Union.

This method of attack ad hominem focuses on a single personality in the last poster. Henry Franklin-Bouillon (1870-1937, critical and secessionist member of the Radical-Socialist Party) sees his family name hijacked by his proximity to Godefroy de Bouillon, one of the main actors of the First Crusade (1095). Two already known characters dub it: General de Castelnau as a cross and André Maginot, distinguished once again by a drunken nose. The purple tone, symbol of the papacy, saturates the poster to emphasize the Catholicism of the protagonists.


Dukercy cartoons in the service of a new political pedagogy

Dukercy's three posters employ a strategy of stigmatizing the adversary in pictures and, in their text, reject the values ​​defended by the Radical Socialist Party. The use of military or customs metaphors, the rhetoric pitting renegade opponents against just radicals, illustrate the enduring influence of the Great War in the political arena. Two themes overlap thus: the return of the Left Bloc in 1902, and the profound break with the logic of the Sacred Union that prevailed at least between 1914 and 1917.

The Bloc led by Émile Combes imposed the law of separation of churches and state of 1905. The three drawings denote the strong anti-clericalism of Dukercy, who constantly attacks General de Castelnau, sketched as an anti-democratic bigot "unionist" ". In fact, he founded the National Catholic Federation in 1924, a league which supported Poincaré’s policy of national union in the streets in 1926-1928.

It is for the same political reasons that Millerand, Maginot and Franklin-Bouillon are targeted by Dukercy's ruthless pencil. The first, described as a "renegade", distinguished himself by being the first socialist to have participated in a "bourgeois" government, in 1899; his patriotic turn in 1914 saw him be elected to the Republic in 1920. But as soon as the Cartel won in May 1924, he was forced to resign. As for Maginot, like Franklin-Bouillon, he opposed Briand's international pacifist policy and advocated the construction of a fortified line of defense which would take his name. With the bottle of champagne that alludes to Pierre Taittinger (1887-1965), founder of the Jeunesses Patriotes in 1924, the message is clear: reaction and big business are united in a new crusade against popular, secular and pacifist France, whose natural leaders would be the radical socialists.

  • anticlericalism
  • caricature
  • deputies
  • propaganda
  • radicalism
  • Third Republic
  • Millerand (Alexandre)
  • Poincaré (Raymond)


Maurice AGULHON, The Republic, volume I (1880-1932), Paris, Hachette, coll. "Pluriel", new enlarged edition, 1990. Jean-Jacques BECKER and Serge BERSTEIN, Victories and frustrations, 1914-1929, Paris, Le Seuil, coll. "Points", 1990.Serge BERSTEIN, History of the radical party, Paris, P.F.N.S.P., 1982. Jean-François SIRINELLI (dir.), The French rights, from the Revolution to the present day, Paris, Gallimard, coll. "Folio History", 1992.

To cite this article

Alexandre SUMPF, "The Cartel of the Left of 1924"

Video: This Light Bulb Has Been Burning for 115 Years!