Creation of Fascio di Combattimento (1919)
In 1919, Mussolini laid the foundations for a new political movement that came to be called fascism after the name of his group, the Fascio di Combattimento. Mussolini’s small group received little attention and were themselves unclear about their beliefs. In elections held in November 1919, the Fascists won no delegates, and Mussolini reflected bitterly that fascism had “come to a dead end.” But political stalemate in Italy’s parliamentary system and strong nationalist sentiment saved Mussolini and the Fascists.
Squadristi violence (1920-1921)
Crucial to Mussolini’s plans was the use of violence. By 1921, the black-shirted Fascist squads numbered 200,000 and had become a regular feature of Italian life. World War I veterans and students were especially attracted to the squadristi and relished the opportunity to use unrestrained violence. Administering large doses of castor oil to unwilling victims became one of their favorite tactics.
Fascists win thirty-five seats in parliament (1921)
By allying with the government coalition, he gained respectability and a free hand for his squadristi violence. Mussolini’s efforts were rewarded when the Fascists won thirty-five parliamentary seats, or 7 percent of the total, in the election of May 1921. Mussolini’s Fascist movement had gained a new lease on life. Mussolini is made prime minister (1922)
With the further deterioration of the Italian political situation, Mussolini and the Fascists were emboldened to plan a march on Rome in order to seize power. In a speech in Naples to Fascist blackshirts on October 24, 1922, Mussolini exclaimed: “Either we are allowed to govern, or we will seize power by marching on Rome” to “take by the throat the miserable political class that governs us.”2 Bold words, but in truth the planned march on Rome was really a calculated bluff to frighten the government into giving them power. The bluff worked, and the government capitulated even before the march occurred. On October 29, 1922, King Victor Emmanuel III (1900–1946) made Mussolini prime minister of Italy.
Acerbo Law (19233)
In July 1923, parliament enacted the Acerbo Law, which stipulated that any party winning at least 25 percent of the votes in the next national election would automatically be allotted two-thirds of the seats in parliament.
Electoral victory for Fascists (1924)
The national elections that were subsequently held on April 6, 1924, resulted in an enormous victory for the Fascists.They won 65 percent of the votes and garnered 374 seats out of a total of 535 in parliament. Although the elections were conducted in an atmosphere of Fascist fraud, force, and intimidation, the size of the victory indicated the growing popularity of Mussolini and his Fascists. With this victory, Mussolini moved faster to consolidate his power.
Establishment for fascist dictatorship (1925-1926)
The public outcry even caused numerous Italian political leaders to predict in December 1924 that Mussolini would have to resign. At the beginning of 1925, yielding to extremists within his own Fascist Party who demanded decisive action and a “second wave” of Fascist change, Mussolini counterattacked.To save himself, Mussolini now pushed to establish a full dictatorship. This may…