Rise of Benito Mussolini

On 29 July 1883, Benito Mussolini was born. He was born in Predappio, a city in northern central Italy. Mussolini got involved in socialists politics when he went to Switzerland in 1902. He moved back to Italy in 1904. When he moved back he worked as a journalist in the social press, however he supported the entry of Italy into WWI and that broke him up with socialism. In September 1915 he was drafted in to the war. Between 1918 and 1926 he rose to power and solidified himself in Italy. The factors than enabled him to rise to power are Italy’s poor government, the Fascist Party and Black Shirts, and Italy’s economic problems.
World War One was tough on many countries, one of which being Italy. Italy’s government after WWI was poor, the democracy was weak, and “it had incurred enormous debts,”(1). The reason that democracy was weak was because war is very costly.
After WWI, the Italian people had much doubt. They had doubt in the Italian government, the society, culture, and basic values. This doubt by the Italian people caused them to want a new and better government. The people showed this doubt and discontent with the government in several different ways. One of them was that “Vittorio Orlando lost support and resigned in June 1919 when only 78 deputies, out of more than 500, voted for him.”(2) Another was when “Gabriel D’Annunzio led an army of volunteers into the city of Fiume on the Dalmatian coast and claimed it for Italy since the majority of the population was Italian.”(3) This event showed that there were people who were ready to take law into their own hands, and that the Government would just let them do so. The final way that discontent in the government was shown was, “the Socialist Party, the PSI gained in strength in 1919-20. The Party’s membership grew from 50,000 before the war to 200,000 in 1919.”(4) With the increase of membership came the increase in strikes and even more notably, “the PSI controlled 26 of the 29 provinces and some 2,000 town councils,”(5) and the Socialists won 156 seats in the general election of 1919. This meant that they were the largest and most organized political party in Italy. As well as having a weak democracy, there was physical destruction to Italy after WWI. There was a division in states. This caused Italy’s future security to be questioned. Mussolini was also able to come to power with the help of the Fascist Party and the Black Shirts. In 1919, “Mussolini founded the Fasci di Combattimento (combat groups). This movement appealed to war veterans with a program that supported government ownership of national resources and that put the interests of Italy above all others.”(6) In 1921 he transformed the Fasci into the National Fascist Party. The new Fascist Party consisted of people who opposed Socialism, and it had a new, more conservative program, which tried to gain the support of property-owning Italians. “The Fascist alone seemed to offer the firm action to prevent revolution that many Italians saw as the only alternative to Bolshevism,”(7) In the winter of 1920 to 1921 the Fascist Party organized into squads and began a campaign of violence against Socialists. In the period between December 1920 to May 1921, 200 men were left dead and 800 were wounded. The government did little to prevent this violence because they thought of it as a way to slow the rise of Socialism.
On October 16, 1992, Fascist leaders met and discussed plans for a march on Rome. Twelve days later, On October 28, 1992, Mussolini was able to get three columns of marchers intended to march to Rome at all costs. Most of the marchers were Black Shirts. The Black Shirts, “often with the direct help of landowners, began to attack local government institutions and prevent left-wing administrations from taking power.”(8)“Fascist leaders in Rome told Facta, Salandra and the Kings that their party was on the point of seizing power by force. Facta’s ministers urged resignation, but the King refused to appoint a new Prime Minister under threat of violence.”(9) However on October 28, Facta resigned. Victor Emmanuel then persuaded Salandra to form a Government. Salandra only agreed to this under the condition that Mussolini would join the Government. Mussolini would not join. This meant that no Government could be formed. Therefore Victor Emmanuel made Benito Mussolini the Prime Minister of Italy and “Mussolini took command of a large, right-wing coalition.”(10)
The third reason why Mussolini was able to rise to power in Italy was the fact that Italy had economic problems. Such problems consisted of inflation, debt, and unemployment. After WWI, the economic conditions helped encouraged the support of extremist parties. And “as a result of Italy’s war debts and problems of reconstruction, the lire was devalued and the prices rose about 50% while wages remained at their pre-war levels.”(11) As if the inflation was not hard enough on the Italian people, the unemployment rate was increasing as well.
“East European nations felt that treaty settlements had left them vulnerable and sought ways of making themselves safer.”(12) This meant that the people of these countries, which included Italy, would look for anything or anybody who they thought would make their country safer. Thus Benito Mussolini was becoming more popular and was looked at as a person who could help the country.
Overall, between the years of 1918 through 1926 Mussolini came to power in Italy. He came to power with the help of Italy’s government and the people’s dislike with the government after WWI, the Fascist Party and Black Shirts, and Italy’s economy after WWI left the Italian people looking for answers to help their country recover, and Benito Mussolini made himself their answer.

(1) Wolfson, Robert, and John Laver. Years of Change European History 1890-1990. N.p.: n.p., n.d. 283. Print.

(2) Ibid, P. 160
(3) Ibid
(4) Ibid, P. 161
(5) Ibid
(6) Cannistraro, Philip V. “Benito Mussolini.” World Book Advanced. N.p., n.d. Web. 9 Dec. 2009.

(7) Wolfson, P. 163
(8) “Benito Mussolini Rise to Power.” Encyclopedia Britannica. N.p., n.d. Web. 9 Dec. 2009.<http://www.britannica.com/‌EBchecked/‌topic/‌399484/‌Benito-Mussolini/‌5089/‌Rise-to-power>.

(9) Wolfson, P. 166
(10) Fredriksen, John C. "Benito Mussolini." World History: The Modern Era. ABC-
CLIO, 2009. Web. 9 Dec. 2009. <http://www.worldhistory.abc-clio.com>.

(11) Wolfson, P. 163
(12) Ibid, P. 280