Explain the reasons for the rise of Fascism Essay

Published: 2020-02-11 17:51:06
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Fascism appealed to the Italian public for various reasons. Many Italians regarded the existing system under the Liberal government as weak and corrupt and Fascism promised a strong government. During the war the divisions between neutralists and interventionists were so severe that they couldnt work together against a common enemy. Elections were managed, especially in the South. All governments were short-lived coalitions, because proportional representation and universal male suffrage meant that it was next to impossible to get a majority.

In 1921 the Fascists were included in the Giolittis list of election candidates which gave them more respectability. Fascist ideology was vague, promising something for everyone; it seemed to offer an end to class divisions. Some liked its anti-socialism and others liked its revolutionary syndicalism. Young people especially were attracted by the emphasis on change.

The Fascists also had the support of influential people and groups, such as the King. The King was disillusioned with parliamentary leadership and feared a left-wing coup. Mussolinis participation in government would have provided welcome strength against the left wing threat. In addition, the King doubted the loyalty of the army if it were called upon to challenge the Fascists. He was cowardly and pessimistic.

Mussolini also had to foster good relations with the Roman Catholic Church simply because, regardless of his dictatorship, the Roman Catholic Church was such a powerful institution in Italy. The church feared communism and were attracted to Mussolinis promises to restore law and order to Italy. In 1921 Mussolini publically announced his opposition to divorce and promised to heal the rift between church and state the Roman Question. Pope Pius XI was friendly with Mussolini and as bishop of Milan allowed Fascist banners in a church. He urged the need for peaceful settlement.

Finally, the March on Rome was the ultimate display of Fascist power. The Fascist squads were organised into militia and plans were drawn up to seize the main towns and cities of northern and central Italy. Around 30,000 Fascists would then converge on the capital and install themselves in power. On the night 27th October, Fascist squads seized town halls, telephone exchanges and railway stations throughout northern Italy. The King refused to allow martial law that would have sanctioned the use of force against the Fascists. This would prove to be a fateful decision: it was a sign the King lacked confidence in his government.

On hearing the Kings refusal, Factas government resigned. The King approached Salandra, a veteran conservative Liberal, and asked him to form a new government. Salandra attempted to negotiate with the Fascists, offering them a few cabinet posts, but it soon became apparent that Mussolini would accept nothing less than Prime Minister. With other liberal leaders opposed to Salandra, the King realised he needed a different man. In the absence of any other viable candidate Mussolini was asked on the 29th October to become Prime Minister of Italy.

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