Mussolini's Italy

Mussolini's rise to power in 1922

Mussolini came to power in 1922 and the most important thing that led him to this is the original fascist party. They were the ones that were in all of the stages which lead him to his power in 1922. Also the fascists sought support right from the beginning and they got support from the patriotic italians. This is why they supported Mussolini but however only got 2% of the vote?? Some people started to give funds to the fascists as they saw them as people fighting off the socialists whom they were extremely frightened of.

 

3 Main Factors:

  • Mussolini

  • Fascist squads

  • Elites (industrial/ rural)

  • The King

  • Fear of Socialism?

  • Appealing to the Public

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1919 Fascist Programme + 1921 Fascist Programme

1919 Fascist Programme :

  • Progressive

  • Freedom/Liberty

  • Equality/suffrage

  • Internationalism

  • Non-religious

  • Beneficial to the poor

  • Education

1921 Fascist Programme:

  • Freedom limited (opinions)

  • Join the military

  • Taxes are proportional to income

  • Education for elite

  • No reference to church

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Petty bourgeoisie's support of the fascist party

Their fears/resentments:

  • Socialists coming to power as Russia has just revolution (Russia got rid of the petty bourgeoisie in a brutal way)

Their hopes:

Source 4.3 Pope Pius XI to the French Ambassador Beyens

Mussolini alone has a proper understanding of what is necessary for his country in order to rid it of the anarchy to which it has been reduced by an impotent [powerless] parliamentarianism and three years of war. You see that he has carried the nation with him. May he be able to regenerate Italy.

 

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What problems did Mussolini face in 1922?

In October 1922 Mussolini said ‘I am here to stay’ when he became Prime minister. But he was not expected to stay in government very long. Italy did need a new government but Mussolini faced many problems:

  • There were only 4 fascists in the cabinet and 55 fascists, 555 members of parliament

  • Fascism had only 7% of the vote

  • Previous governments had lasted on average about 2 years

  • Mussolini had no detailed programme

  • Mussolini’s supporters were divided between moderates and radicals

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Matteotti Crisis- how was he murdered?

  • On 30th  May 1924 Matteotti rose to his feet in the Italian Chamber of deputies. He was outraged by the fascist Violence in the recent elections. The Socialist leader had prepared a 30-minute speech denouncing the violence and calling the annulment (cancelling) of the election results

  • He spoke moments the interruptions began but however the fascist deputies were determined to stop him.

  • Again and again disrupted his speech but Matteotti struggled on. It took him two hours to complete his speech. Matteotti knew the likely costs of opposing the Fascists.

  • Matteotti made his way to the Chamber where he was stopped by ex squadrist who bundled him into the car. He said ‘you may kill me’, he shouted ‘you will not kill the ideal. The workers will bless my dead body’

  • As the car screeched off, his abductors, armed with guns and knives, repeatedly stabbed him

Before this 50 members of parliament were attacked, including 3 who were murdered.

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Matteotti Crisis-How did he respond to the crisis

  • King Victor Emmanuel, however, wanted others to take the lead and fortunately for Mussolini his opponents were divided.

  • His first response was a policy combining repression and concession. This meant that the militia was mobilised and tighter controls were imposed on the press to stop anything from being published that criticised his regime

  • Criticisms from his opposition grew as new evidence emerged implicating him in fascist violence. Under pressure from his own party

 

  • The radicals were equal, fearing that if Mussolini lost power their chances of a fascist revolution would disappear. If there was no fascist revolution then there would be no chance of him taking over the country completely and he wouldn’t look like a strong leader that he had portrayed himself to be.

Mussolini survived throughout this due to the weak opposition which was divided

 

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How did Mussolini become a dictator?

Mussolini’s Actions:

  • Jan 1925 announces dictatorship in Parliament

  • Issues Decrees (2,000 in Jan 1926 alone!)

  • New secret police (OVRA/Cheka)

  • Appoints Farinacci Party Secretary ( a fascist)

  • Militia integrated into Army pledge oath to King

  • Centralised power

Other factors:

  • Weak opposition/divided

  • King does nothing (powerless?)

  • Is King worried about Coup/ civil war?

  • Support of Elite

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Steps to Power for Mussolini in 1922

The Murder of Matteotti - Major Crisis June 1924 (Mussolini brought this on himself, he didn’t like people criticising his regime)

Didn’t take responsibility for the Murder

WEAK OPPOSITION- without this it wouldn’t of helped him to become powerful and put tighter controls on the press- he wanted to look like a powerful and strong figure like he had portrayed himself in the beginning

Finally accepts responsibility for the Murder!!!

Mussolini given great powers, greater control of the press, followed by purge of civil service

Exceptional Decrees increase repression

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Propaganda methods used to consolidate his regime

  • Newspapers
  • Art and culture
  • Radio
  • Rallies/ campaigns 
  • Posters
  • Cinema
  • Sport
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Use of propaganda methods

Newspapers- strictly controlled/ edited by fascists, literate members of family would read newspapers out to those who were illiterate 

Radio- 2 hours a day of government information, played different styles of music (jazz and classical) and speeches 

Posters- slogans, posters of mussolini, many italians were illiterate

Cinema- Frequently previewed documentaries before they were released, increasing number of italians went to cinema as films were shown based upon mainly italy

Rallies- showcase party strength, rallied public spares, militaristic (soldiers and children)

Sport- invested in stadiums, team work

Art/culture- museums/ buildings, controlled by the state, classical art promoted and some abstract (kept)

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Policies of Women

Effective- Women had a clearly specified role to play within the fascist doctrine. It was their task to run the home and maximise their childbearing.

Ineffective- Limit of ten per cent of offices’ employment of women.

 

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Policies on agriculture

Considerable advances in yields, 50% more wheat per acre (North)

Government rhetoric stressed the importance of the peasantry and rural life. Government help via grants for fertilisers and machinery and spreading scientific knowledge

Policies failed to tackle basic problems like poverty and the backwardness of Southern Agriculture. Farmers hit by world slump in prices. 20% drop in cattle and sheep farming in the South. Depression led to 20-40% cut in agricultural workers wage. Flight from the land: 1.5 million left.

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Policies of industry

Benefitted from supportive government policies, and the growth of large firms and mafia continued. Newer industries such as chemicals and synthetic fibres, grew particularly well.

Government assistance more geared up towards preserving existing structure rather than encouraging efficient reorganisation.

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Policies of taxation

Initially the wealthy benefitted from Mussolini’s tax policies. For the wealthy, taxes reduced to stimulate investment (1920’s). 1935 National prices committee to control prices. Inflation controlled until 1943

As the state intervened more with the economy and tried to build up its war machine, taxation became heavier. In the 1920’s the mass of the population experienced the indirect taxes raised. In the 1930s the mass of the population still had high taxes. Elite support for the regime declined as in the 1930’s taxes were raised for the Wealthy. In 1934 about 60% indirect, 40% direct taxation.

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What was Italy like in the 19th Century? What

What was Italy like in the 19th Century?

In the 19th Century, Italy was officially unified and in 1861 the central government was set up. Italy was more right wing as it was catholic, there was a mafia. Being an authoritarian country wasn't a good thing but liberalism was good as it would allow people to be more open and free. Also there was the Feudalistic pre-capitalism situation.

 A fascist is someone who would want:

  • Nationalism
  • One party Government
  • National Unity
  • War
  • Paramilitary organisations
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Social reasons for leading to an authoritarian reg

Social Reasons for leading to an authoritarian regime

  • More Italians migrated to US than any other Europeans
  • Poverty, overpopulation, and natural disaster all spurred Italian emigration
  • Beginning in the 1870s, birth rate rose and death rate fell
  • Population pressure became severe, especially in southern and poorest provinces
  • As late as 1900s, the illiteracy rate in Southern Italy was 70%
  • Southerners were affected by high taxes and high protective tariffs on Northern Industry goods
  • Southerners also suffered from a scarcity of cultivatable land, soil erosion and deforestation
  • Southerners also suffered from a lack of coal and iron ore needed by industry
  • Italy wasn't a unified country there was other languages such as Lombard, Venetian, Ladin, Friutan, Diedmontese, Franco- Provencal
  • Mafia Groups influenced Italy at the time
  • Majority of population was rural 1913 = 57%
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Domestic Policies on Women, Economy and church

Women:

- Women had a clearly specified role to play within the fascist doctrine. It was their task to run the home and maximise their childbearing (effective)

- Limit of ten percent of offices employment of women (ineffective)

Agriculture: 

-  Considerable advances in yields, 50% more wheat per arce (North). Government rhetoric stressed the importance of peasantry and rural life. Government help via grants for fertilisers and machinery and spreading scientific knowledge (effective)

- Policies failed to tackle basic problems like poverty and the backwardness of Southern Agriculture. Farmers hit by world slump in prices. Depression led to 20-40% cut in agricultural workers wage.

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Domestic Policies

Transport:

  • Clear progress. Motorways were built and 5000km of railway were electrified. Railways ran on time; illustrated fascist efficiency? (effective)
  • Many local roads left untouched. Poor roads remained in backward agricultural areas. Few italians owned cars. South was neglected (ineffective)

Industry:

  • Benefitted from supportive government policies, and the growth of large firms and CARTELS continued. Newer industries such as chemicals and synthetic fibres, grew particularly well (effective)
  • Government assistance more geared up towards preserving existing structure rather than encouraging efficient reorganisation
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Domestic Policies

Taxation:

  • Intially the wealthy benefitted from Mussolini's tax policies. For the wealthy, taxes reduced to stimulate investment (1920's). (effective)
  • As the state intervened more with the economy and tried to build up it war machine, taxation became heavier. In the 1920's the mass of the population experienced the indirect taxes raised. In the 1930s the mass of the population still had high taxes. (ineffective)
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