Fasci di Combattimento
On the 23 March 1919, around 20 ex-servicemen leagues got together and under the lead of Mussolini, formed the Fasci di Combatimento.
Mussolini realised the power of Trinceristi and wanted to capitilize on that.
This was not an official or formal political party.
They sought support from all patriotic Italians.
Around 50 peopel attended the original meeting
There were 3000 members by June
Primarily made up of arditi
Arditi - Crack troop commanders from WWI
The First Programme
- An anticlerical programme that wanted to confiscate church property.
- They called for an end of the monarchy and an establishment of a republic.
- They said suffrage should be extended to all women and younger Italians.
- They wanted the creation of an 8 hour working day
- Abolition of the senate
- Nationalisation of the armaments industry
- Progressive taxation
- Confiscation of profits from those companies that made large profits during the war.
1919 Elections and the Squadristi
They secured only 5000 votes in Milan in the 1919 elections. They got no seats in parliament.
The PSI got 1680000 and the PPI got 70000.
On 15 April 1919, a fascist squad of 200 - 300 black shirts attacked a socialist demonstation and burned down the Milan offices of Avanti! Three socialists and 1 fascist were killed.
In the first 5 months of 1921, 200 people were killed and 1000 wounded in fascist violence.
Mussolini claimed the war against the socialists had saved Italy from its own Red October.
In May 1921, a general election was held.
The fascsts made use of the squads to attack socialist campaign meetings and rallies. The police lent vehicles and the army gave weapons to the fascists.
The PSI still secured the most votes, but the Fascists got 7% and 35 seats.
This gave Mussolini immunity from prosecution due to being a member of parliament, and a new authority as one.
A police charge against Mussolini for 'intent to overthrow the government by violence' quitely went away.
The New Programme
In May 1920, a new programme was adopted. It was much more right wing and conservative then the first programme. It promised:
- An 8 hour working day with exception for agricultural and industrial requirements.
- Schools to train the governing elite and to provide Italy's future soldiers with physical and moral training.
- Citizen's freedom limited in the interests of the nation and obligatory military service.
- taxes proportional to income and No abolition of the church or the monarchy.
- Italy holding a major role in the mediterranean and privatisation of industry.
Partito Nazionale Fascista (PNF)
In Octover 1921, the movement was formally organised into the PNF.
Mussolini wanted to centralise his control over the movement.
They founded local brances and attempted to recruit more 'respectable members' who could help advance hte appeal of fascism beyond its current viewers.
By the end of 1921, the PNF had over 200000 members.
Its appeal grew to urban middle class, professional white-collar workers and small business owners.
Many young Italians grew tired of the old liberal order.
In January 1921, the PSI split and the radicals created the PCI. This only weakeneed the PSI.
In July 1922, a 24 hour strike called for by the PSI and PCI never came to be. The workers did not bother but Mussolini claimed it was due to the actions of the fascists.
By 1922, the PNF had over 300000 members.
The Liberals were split over what to do, with Salandra, Facta, Nitti and Giolitti all wanting to be PM in a Fascist coalition.
Mussolini promised all 4 that they would be PM in a Fascist coalition.
This only depended the divide. Mussolini now knew only he could lead a Government.