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How and Why Did Mussolini Rise to Power?

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How and Why Did Mussolini Rise to Power?

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  • May 2012
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How and why did Mussolini come to power in 1922?
The tumultuous era preceding Mussolini’s rise to power was marked by post-war grievances and prolonged economic instability; both of these factors resulted in popular dissatisfaction with liberalism and created an opportune atmosphere for his accession to power. The years following Italy’s unification in 1871 were blighted by poverty, a lack of nationalism and most devastatingly involvement in the First World War, resulting in national humiliation and the diminishing of the liberal government’s authority. This was signified by the marked political instability from 1919 to 1922, where 5 weak governments were elected in quick succession. The “mutilated victory” of Versailles, where Italy was given meagre quantities of land, was a cataclysmic blow to the popularity of liberalism and allowed for more radical parties such as the Fascists to enter the political spectrum. Threats to the government’s power came from both the far right and left, with the Fascist party gaining 35 seats in 1921 and membership for the Partito Socialista Italiano rising from 50,000 to 200,000 during the Bienno Rosso. However, circumstance was not the sole determinant of Mussolini’s success. Mussolini himself was a highly influential orator and was able to make his Fascist party appeal to all social classes. His newspaper, Il Popolo d’Italia, crucially allowed him to propagate his party’s ideology and convince disillusioned voters to support the National Fascist party. Activism and pragmatism were also key elements of his personality which allowed him to complete his rise to power, and were particularly evident in his march on Rome. Continued liberal unpopularity, World War One and Mussolini’s charismatic leadership were the most significant factors contributing to Mussolini’s rise to power in October 1922. Probably the most fundamental event contributing to the decline of Italy’s liberal governments’ popularity and functionality was the First...