Section Six: Consolidation of Power

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  • Created by: naomi
  • Created on: 22-04-13 20:18

Mussolini sought to reassure parliament

  • after being appointed prime minister, Mussolini sought to reassure parliament, giving a speech saying that he "could have shut up parliament" but "did not wish to do so"
  • he also formed a coalition government where, out of 14 senior ministers, only four were fascists
  • this persuaded concerned liberals and conservatives that fascism would soon dissolve and could just be used as a tool against socialism in the meantime
  • however, Mussolini was just manipulating parliament and made himself minister of the interior and of foreign affairs, thus holding all the real power
  • additionally, he played on people's fear of socialism and their belief that law and order had totally broken down
  • though there was little threat from socialists and it was actually the fascists who had caused all the disorder, Mussolini persuaded parliament to grant him emergency powers for a year
  • hence he could pass any law he wanted without having to consult parliment first 
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Assert his position in his own party

  • Mussolini also needed to assert his position in his own party as some fascists were very radical and he needed to control them
  • he set up the Grand Council of Fascism so he could make all appointments to the council and control fascist policy, thus increasing authority over the party
  • however, Farinacci was still a troublesome ras and so Mussolini cleverly used him by making him party secretary
  • he was given the job of centralising the party which meant decreasing the powers of the ras, and once he had done this, Mussolini dismissed him
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Elections

  • Mussolini further consolidated his power through elections
  • he implemented the Acerbo Law which meant that the party winning the most votes would gain two thirds of the seats in parliament
  • Mussolini defended this by saying the law would create a firm and stable government which could deal decisively with issues unlike the previous weak liberal coalitions
  • the law was put into practise during the 1924 elections
  • black shirt violence and ballot rigging ensured that fascists obtained a majority and so, with two thirds of parliamentary seats, Mussolini had made it near impossible to vote the fascists out of power
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The Matteotti Crisis 1924

  • The Matteotti crisis in 1924 proved to be a turning point for the establishent of Mussolini's dictatorship
  • after the murder of the prominent socialist figure, Mussolini's position was look tenuos but this incident actually resulted in Mussolini gaining more power
  • opposition MPs were so appalled by the incident that they walked out of Parliament in the Aventine Secession
  • they hoped that the King would take this as a sign that things were out of control and so dismiss Musoslini, but the King did no such thing
  • this effectively got rid of any opposition Mussolini faced in parliament
  • the crisis also sparked demands from radicals within the fascist party for Mussolini to establish a proper dictatorship or else they would withdraw their support
  • at the beginning of 1925 Mussolini accepted these demands and created his dictatorship
  • he passed the Leggi Fascistissime which banned opposition parties and free trade unions
  • indeed, in January 1926 alone, 2000 repressive decrees were passed
  • press censorship was tightened, the secret police OVRA was set up and local mayors were replaced with fascist podestas
  • all this increased Mussolini's control over Italy 
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Support from the Elite

  • Support from the elite was key to Mussolini's consolidation of power
  • he managed to get industrialists, like thr group of Confindustria, on side by deciding not to attack widespread tax evasion so industrialists saw Mussolini was not a dangerous radical 
  • he also gained support of the church by confirming his intentions to implement compulsory religious education in state schools and to bad contraception
  • in return the Pope began to withdraw this support from Popolari and even instructed its leader Don Sturzo to leave Italy, effectively ruling out another opposition group.
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