The Crisis of Liberal Italy and the Rise of Mussolini, c1900-1926
What problems faced Italy in 1890?
· 60% of the population dependent on land 1890 (only 10% in Britain)
· 40% of food produced was eaten by farmers
· Lack of natural resources lead to limited heavy industry
· Average income per head in 1890 was £8 per year, compared to £31 in Britain
· 1898 Year of Crisis created much discontent as concerns about socialism lead to martial law and press censorship
· 1890s saw widespread popular protests and increasing instability
· North-South divide
· 1896 Battle of Adowa made the government look weak as their army was defeated by a few tribes men with sticks
· People were loyal to their region and not their country/government (1870 only 2% of the population spoke Italian)
· The Church resented the government as they had lost land from the unification of Italy (the Pope didn’t recognize the Italian State) and Catholics were banned from voting in elections in 1891 (this wasn’t relaxed until 1904)
· Transformissmo lead to many unstable shifting factions (difficult to enact change)
· King wanted Italy to be a great power
Why did the Liberals dominate Italian politics in the years 1890-1914?
· The electorate was limited so only the elites could vote and they favoured the Liberals for their anti-socialist views
· No one else wanted to take power as Italy had too many issues
What criticisms were made of the Liberal political system?
· It appeared weak which did not appeal to the emerging nationalists
· The system was unstable as to pass any legislation fragile factions had to come together
What did the Socialists believe?
· The wealth from the elites should be taken from them and given to the workers
· Trade Unions should be set up to protect workers when they went on strike
Why did support grow for Socialism and how big was the threat?
· Middle class:
· Marxism grew popular, however the PSI never exceeded 50,000 members
· This could have been a threat as the middle class was more likely to be able to create political parties due to being educated
· In practice, the PSI was much more moderate in its views and was willing to work with the Liberals
· PSI won ¼ of the votes in 1913 but only got a tenth of the seats so, as a result of the voting system favoring central parties, the threat wasn’t as great as it seemed
· The PSI was split between the radicals (the maximalists), who wanted revolution, and the moderates, who wanted to work within the system, which undermined Turati’s attempts to cooperate with the government and divided Socialism’s voices so they were less effective (by 1913 there were 3 separate socialist parties)
· Population of Milan doubled 1880-1914
· Working class able to organise general strikes due to being in closer contact (1500 strikes per year 1906-10)
· Trade Unions meant that socialist ideas spread more quickly (TUs are usually socialist)...