How successful were Italian leaders at dealing with Italys problems 1896-1914?

Authors Avatar by fangricky1gmailcom (student)

How successful were Italian leaders at dealing with Italy’s problems 1896-1914?

As a country nearing the end of its unification process, Italy was in the midst of several key issues, including problems within the politics of the country, the social issues that arose as a result of unification, the economic stability of Italy as well as the Papacy’s role in the Italy. The prime ministers of the time, Crispi and Giolitti remained partially successful at tackling these issues, building Italy from the financial rubble into what became known as the ‘economic miracle’ of Italy, although with numerous social costs.  

A key issue that remained for much of the unification process was the problems caused by the establishment of a centralised Italian government. Despite the liberal aims of this new government that controlled the majority of Italian states, it could not be considered a full democracy due to the fact that there was extremely limited suffrage, with only around 2 percent of the total population being able to take part in voting, a so called liberal state whose government did not represent the actual majority of the Italian population. From this, the concept of ‘Transformismo’ was created, in response to the limited numbers that were actually able to vote. Due to lack of voter turnouts, political leaders relied upon a system of bribery and pressure in order to secure support from several other smaller groups, and in turn arguably the Italian leaders, particularly Giolitti who relied on this massively were unsuccessful to a small extent to dealing with problem of lack of suffrage. However, the success brought by Giolitti in increasing the electorate from 3 million to 8.5 million people indicates that there were some small successes on the political front. The problem of political extremism also arose from the limited suffrage. Many felt that the Italian government did not fully represent the views and needs of the people, and indeed despite Giolitti managing to increase the electorate numbers it was still a massively small proportion of the whole of the Italian population. This shift towards political extremism reached two ends of the political spectrum; new factions were formed, usually to the far left or right wing in ideology, and would contribute to the eventual downfall of liberalism, particularly by the nationalist ideology which continued to spread with rapid pace. Along with nationalism came the rising urge for Italy to build its own empire, and the Italian prime minister Crispi spectacularly failed with this, not only having his claims to African states rejected by France, but also in failing to provoke a war with France which could possibly allow Italy to seize French territory. Giolitti was also left with little success, failing to promote any assertive foreign policies which would later spur the nationalist movement, and failing to build Italy’s empire despite the invasion of Libya, which while was technically a success, resulted in several Italian casualties and long term instability. Despite this minor success, Giolitti himself received little credit for this, with the nationalist movement claiming success, while the left wing socialist movement remained opposed to his foreign policy, and Giolitti’s small success would only fuel the political extremism.

Join now!

Socially, Italy was also an extremely divided state. From the beginning of the unification process, the issue of the north-south divide was already a major issue, and many Italians from the south refusing to recognise their ‘Italian’ identity, instead viewing unification as more of a colonisation process rather than spurring national unity. The rural south was considered a relatively backward area, especially when compared to the industrialised north which seemed to amount for much of the country’s identity; people from the south were particularly disillusioned by the fact that the Italian working class were the ones that often did not ...

This is a preview of the whole essay