Reasons that Mussolini was able to consolidate his power

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EG How far do you agree that the use of repression was the main reason the Fascist regime was able to control Italy in the years 1925-43?

Repression and force allowed Mussolini to cement his power base. It simultaneously removed potential opponents to the regime and frightened those likely to follow them into submission. However, Fascist rule was not simply based on coercion and intimidation. It was only when military failure dented his popularity that Mussolini's regime lost control.

In November 1926 his Chief of Police Arturo Bocchini set up the OVRA, a secret police. It compiled piles on 130,000 potential subversives using a network of 100,000 informants and by the 1930s carried out 20,000 raids each week. However, the OVRA only had a small full-time staff (700) and raids were never on the scale of Hitler's Gestapo or Stalin's NKVD. 

The Special Tribunal was set up to tackle serious political dissent. Between 1926 and 1943 21,000 were tried, and around three quarters committed, the average gaol sentence being around five years. It used summary justice (immediate judgements without a full trial) outside the normal court system. 

5000 political prisoners and 10,000 sent into internal exile, particulary to Lipari and Lampesdura. It could be spartan and sometimes brutal, but prisoners were given a 10 lire daily allowance and were not compelled to work. All in all, there were around 400 deaths, "legally" and through murder. This was a significant downturn from the years 1919-22, where squads killed 2000 opponents. This was because Mussolini had curbed their violence. 

Censorship was widespread: in 1926 all opposition newspapers were closed down or had decided to toe the fascist line. There were severe restrictions on the content published. Terror spread abroad as well, in the case of the Roselli brothers, who were murdered in France. 

However, traditional forms of protest survived the purge, eg strikes over pay and conditions, food riots etc

The MVSN was an armed fascist militia of 50000 men who could beat up and threaten selected victims, but were usually used to guard buildings and suchlike. 

Genuinely popular policies and schemes

The Opera Nazionale Balilla (ONB) helped to inculcate fascist values.


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