What was the nature and importance of Mussolini's relationship with Italy's political and economic elite?

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  • Created on: 10-04-19 08:47
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  • The nature of Mussolini's relationship with Italy's political and economic elite
    • Monarchy
      • Italy remained a constitutional monarchy until September 1943
      • The original 1919 Fascist programme had said Italy would become a republic
      • The 1920 programme removed reference of the King as Mussolini knew it would help to be PM if he could get the King on side
      • He came to a political compromise with the King
        • Helped gain the support and acceptance of the armed forces and state administration who were still loyal to the King.
        • He would still visit the King weekly and the armed services were still loyal to the King and did not swear an oath to Mussolini
      • As Mussolini's dictatorship became stronger he slowly eroded the power of the King
        • Dec 1928 - Fascist Grand Council had been granted constitutional rights to limit the Kings power to nominate future PM's.
        • March 1938 - created First Marshal of the Empire (highest ranking military position) - given to the King and Mussolini
          • Mussolini took over full time in June 1940 when Italy entered WW2
      • The King made no effort to challenge Mussolini's position - he allowed anti-Semitic decrees to pass in 1938. Seemed to be un-bothered about his eroding position
    • Conservative Elites
      • Concentrated on the judiciary, army and the civil service
      • Judges could remain independent from the PNF but many chose to join to secure their jobs
      • Most of the civil service kept their jobs unless they were anti-Fascist
      • The highest positions were held by civil service, eg the Ministry of Corporations had all civil servants
      • Podestrá - mayors. Held by elderly conservatives, particularly in the South.
    • Central government
      • Dec 1925 - structure of the government changed. Mussolini is head of govt and only answerable to the King.
      • May 1928 - Parliament to be made up of 400 deputies taken from a list of 1000 candidates nominated by Fascist public bodies
      • December 1928 - Fascist Grand Council becomes the most important legal body in the state via the constitution
      • However, the Grand Council did not have that much power because Mussolini retained the power to appoint top PNF leaders and set out laws to be debated by the council. They had no consultation on laws such as those with the RC Church or on entry to WW2
        • The Grand Council barely met in the 1930s - central power lay with Mussolini
      • Senate left unchanged
        • In 1932, 148 members of the Senate were not part of the PNF
          • He did, however, ensure that all new Senators were Fascists
    • Local government
      • Traditional position of prefect remained in place - usually a member of the conservative elite
        • Prefects role - organise local police, ensure censorship of local press and implement suppression of anti-Fascist activities. Also reported on local Fascist branches of government so Mussolini could control them
      • Prefects were appointed by Mussolini, the Podestá were appointed by the prefects. The Podestá ran the local council.
        • This meant that the local government was largely out of control of Mussolini as appointments were done by elite and civil servants
    • PNF and Nationalists
      • 1925 - Roberto Farinacci appointed to purge the party of those who did not agree with Mussolini's goals
        • However, Farinacci was an extremist who encouraged political violence by the squads. He was dismissed after violence became unfavourable after the Matteoti crisis and raplced with Turati.
      • By 1931, 290 000 members had either been purged out the party or left due to Mussolini's policies
        • They were replaced by around 800k new fascists
      • Most new members joined for the benefits membership provided eg employment opportunities
        • This helped Mussolini as it meant the party was filled with members who would not challenge his policies
      • The ANI had been merged with the party and most accepted this, therefore not posing a threat. Members such as Emilio Bodrero were appointed to positions in government.
      • The aggressive foreign policy in 1930s could be owed to the Nationalist influence
    • Economic interest groups
      • Palazzo Vidoni Pact - pact to make only a Fascist Trade Union the representative of the workers
        • Benefits businesses - less strikes
      • Rocco Law 1926 passed
        • Gives syndacists (groups who believe workers should have rights but business should remain private) representation from fascists and tribunals for disputes over pay. Strikes were therefore banned
          • Favourable to busineeses


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