Section One: The problems of Liberal Italy

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  • Created by: naomi
  • Created on: 22-04-13 16:53

Cultural Problems

  • Only 2% spoke Italian - vast majority spoke dialiects - communication restricted
  • Different currencies for different areas restricted trade
  • People's loyalties were to family or immediate locality, not the state
  • Unity was limited as people did not act as citizens of one country 
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Political Weaknesses

  • Italy had been formed hastily and against the will of the majority
  • Italy was not a true democracy
  • Only 2% had suffrage so deputies were elected with around 300 votes
  • Politicians were middle class and didn't represent the masses
  • Only the elites could be part of politics
  • The majority were peasants who felt uninvolved
  • There were no clearly defined parties
  • Politicians were corrupt and self interested
  • They used the corrupt process of transformismo to form majorities, which were unstable
  • There were 29 prime ministers in 52 years
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Economic weaknesses

  • Debt of 2450 million lire meant high tax for the poor
  • Tarrifs put on imports from other countries who then did the same, which damaged trade and caused a banking crisis 
  • Industry was undeveloped and lacked resources like iron ore and coal
  • Agriculture was backward and 30% of each year's produce went to repaying debts
  • Infrastructure development was costly and required high tax, reducing peasant living standards further 
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  • A divide between the industrialised north and poor south
  • 0.01% of the population owned 50% of the land and agriculture was backward and inefficient
  • Communication problems
  • Humiliating defeat at Adowa in 1896 stunted Italy's attempts to become a great nation
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  • Catholic church opposed Liberal Italy as it allowed religious freedom
  • Unification had stripped the pope of much of his land - left with just Vatican City
  • Pope announed that any Catholics taking part in politics or working for the new state would be excommunicated - problem as 90% of the population was Catholic
  • Socialists were also a threat
  • They promised better working conditions e.g. 8 hour day, universal male suffrage and women's rights
  • Therefore received much worker support and in 1900 obtained 32 seats in Parliament
  • Took advantage of liberal reform in 1881 - allowed 2 million more Italians to vote
  • Nationalists wanted aggressive foreign policy and higher military spending
  • They felt liberal politians were self interested and corrupt and wanted Italy to be a great power
  • Angry at 1896 Adowa defeat 
  • Opposition groups caused splits in the country - challenged the liberal's monopoly of power 
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