Section Five: Collapse of the Liberal state and the rise of Fascism

  • Created by: naomi
  • Created on: 22-04-13 19:24

Liberal Government appeared weak

  • liberal government remained neutral during strikes such as those in 1920 
  • incidence in Fiume also strengthened this image when D'Annunzio seized the city and held it for over a year
  • it took the government this long to take action and when they did they merely turned it into an international city
  • this showed them to be feeble as they had made such a fuss over not receiving Fiume after the war and when an opporunity arose to obtain it they did little
  • it had taken one man to do something the government could not
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Fascism appeared strong

  • during the general strike called by the socialists in 1922, the fascists had taken over the workers' jobs and had kept the transport and postal system running
  • this showed them to be respectable and reliable and impressed many, especially conservatives; the support of whom was vital
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Fascists used violent methods to suppress oppositi

  • in 1921 the fascists, in the form of squadrismo, launched violent attacks on socialists, destroying 80 trade union offices and leaving 200 dead
  • in this way, Mussolini was able to gain power by assuring violent RAS that he was still in favour of a violent takeover of Italy, while distancing himself from the most violent of the squadrismo in order to retain the support of the conservatives
  • his violence against socialists also won him much support from groups like industrialists who feared the growth of socialism
  • violence was also a successful tool for blackmail when 30 thousand fascist troops were prepared for the march on Rome
  • Mussolini threatened mass violence if he was not granted power
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Gained support by having a very vague set of polic

  • managed to gain support from many areas in Italian society by having a very vague set of policies
  • he advocated action and claimed Italy was tired of the corrupt part system
  • for example, through his anti-socialist policies he gained the sipport of the petty bourgeoisie and small land owners who feared the economic consequences for them if socialists gained power
  • this also gave Mussolini the support of the elites and industrialists
  • Fascists also obtained the sympathies of nationalists by playing on the injustice of the terra irrendenta and by advocating an expansionist state
  • Mussolini had the support of the church too - friendly with the pope who had allowed fascist banners in churches
  • this support was highly significant as 90% of the population claimed to be Catholic + the church has a major influence in Italy.
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Helped by opposition's inability to cooperate

  • 1919: PSI gained 156 seats and PPI got 101 seats: if they had worked together they could have easily formed a majority but were unable to due to large disagreements
  • thus the liberal government continued to stumble along
  • liberal government was weak and corrupt, continuing to use the transformismo and formed 5 brief governments between 1918 and 1922
  • this weakness and their lack of action meant people became disillusioned with them and were more attracted to the fascists who promised action
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Mussolini's shrewd actions and Giolitti's mistakes

  • At the time of the 1922 elections, Mussolini had managed to encourage Giolitti to think that that fascist movement was weak and would just blow over
  • thus Giolitti used the fascist movement to form a coalition and gain a majority
  • Mussolini skilfully put fascist names on the liberal candidate list and was able to obtain 35 seats in the election
  • this provided him with a foothold into the government and by the time Giolitti realised what was actually happening, it was too late
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Weakness of the King

  • the King was a feeble and unassertive character and doubted the army, especially as some generals sympathised with fascists and 6 generals had been involved in the march on Rome
  • this weakened the King's confidence
  • on 28th Ofctober he ordered Martial Law but was too weak to go through with it
  • the King actually had ultimate power, but was incapable of firm leadership and so gave way to Mussolini
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