Stalking Horse

A stalking horse is a person who acts on the behalf of an anonymous third party. The expression is generally used in politics and business. The term originally derived from the practice of hunting wildfowl, which flee immediately on the approach of humans, but tolerate the close presence of animals such as horses and cattle. Hunters slowly approach their quarry by walking alongside their horses, keeping out of sight until the flock is within firing range. Animals or devices used for this purpose are called stalking horses.

The phenomenon occurs particularly in politics, where a junior politician acts as the stalking horse to promote the interests of a senior politician who remains unseen in case the actions would damage him or her but nevertheless wants to provoke a debate or challenge to a party colleague. In some cases stalking horses are not working for a particular individual but may wish to provoke a response that leads others to join in. In politics, the truth about the relationship between an individual stalking horse and a candidate may never be known, as both sides may claim that the (alleged) stalking horse acted without the agreement of anyone else.

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