How successful were Italian leaders at dealing with Italy’s problems between 1871 and 1914? (30 marks)
Between 1871 and 1914, Italian leaders experienced many different problems, both nationally and internationally. These included the divided country, the poor state of the economy, a flawed political system and a foreign policy which resulted in the loss of thousands of Italian lives. Although Italian leaders did manage to deal with some issues during this period, many of them were left unresolved or got worse. For that reason they were largely unsuccessful at dealing with the nation’s problems.
After the unification of Italy in 1861, there were divisions between the North and South of the country. Southern Italy had always been more agricultural with many people working on farms, whilst the North of the country was more industrialised. This led to issues, because those in the South often experienced poverty, but individuals in the North had better living standards because of industrialisation creating jobs. There were social differences between the people as well, as they viewed the North and South of Italy as different countries, and did not want to be together. Angostino Depretis was the Prime Minister during the period when there was a lot of social discontent, but he did little to solve the problems between the people. He believed in the policy of laissez faire or ‘leave alone’, and thought that it was best if the Government did not interfere in the problems of people across the country. This shows how Depretis and other Italian leaders such as Crispi and Giolitti were unsuccessful at dealing with Italy’s problems. They thought that the issue would solve itself – however, it did not and trouble began to grow in the South as the people felt they had been betrayed and left isolated. This led to the growth of socialism as people thought that evenly distributed wealth would help everybody, and when this failed with the collapse of the expected revolution after the ‘Red Years’, these people then turned to fascism. As a result, Italian leaders were unsuccessful at dealing with Italy’s social problems of a divided nation, because they ignored it, and this unrest eventually led to the rise of fascism.