Assess the reasons why Mussolini was appointed Prime Minister in 1922

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Harlan Calder

Assess the reasons why Mussolini was appointed Prime Minister in 1922

Mussolini was appointed Prime Minister in 1922 due to the depriving affects that world war one had on Italian society. The war destroyed Italy economically leading to a rise in socialism. This in turn lead to highlighting the weaknesses of the liberals as the country was torn apart in the red years. This strengthened the appeal of fascism as it was the cure that Italy needed to get rid of the socialists. The fascists needed only to organise their party and take advantage of the open opportunity to seize power in Rome.

However organisation of the party was no mean feat as it contained many different viewpoints from many members that had been sourced from some of the most extreme and militant movements in Italy. This is the first reason that made Mussolini key to the rise of fascism. He was able to control the Ras (Regional Fascist Leaders) and the organisations that they also controlled that gave fascism its power, physically not politically, factions such as the Squadristi. Mussolini could now focus the party agenda onto securing votes in the upcoming election by centralising the party onto one goal. Mussolini’s second talent was in changing the fascists from a revolutionist movement into a respectable political party. This came about after the elections of 1921 when the fascists achieved only 4 seats. Mussolini now changed the parties’ policies making it less extremist and more authoritarian and establishing it as being clearly right wing. An example of policy change to gain votes is when in 1919 the fascists had promised the confiscation of all property of religious organisation whereas in 1921 they now did not mention the clergy at all. This gave the fascists a wider appeal and more votes giving them invaluable influence on government. Another talent that Mussolini had was the ability to exploit an opportunity. This was a vital quality as the fascists needed to exploit the few opportunities they would get to take power due to the rise of socialism. Mussolini took advantage of the political system of proportional representation and transformismo. He broke his promise to Giolitti and did not join his government ultimately bringing about the end of government and showing to Italy and notably the King the political weaknesses that Mussolini and the fascists could fix with a strong leader and a strong government.

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These political weaknesses were key to the rise of fascism as the country and its leader King Emanuel became desperate enough to allow the fascists to rule. The political weaknesses were due to the system of proportional representation. It meant that to stop the biggest party (socialists or PPI) from coming to power the liberals along with the Catholics would have to make weak coalitions containing all sorts of parties to gain a majority and create a government. However there were many flaws in this plan as it meant that weak governments were created due to the conflicting policies within ...

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