How far was the growth in support for Fascism in the years 1919-22 responsible for Mussolini’s appointment as Prime Minister?
In October 1922, King Victor Emmanuel III appointed Benito Mussolini as the 13th Prime Minister of the Italian state. Between 1919 and 1922, the Fascists had begun to appeal to a larger audience, such as the industrialists, the army and the middle classes, but in 1922 only held 7% of the vote. This means that although support was an important factor in Mussolini’s appointment to power, there were other factors that also had a role in leading to this, such as the weakness of Giolitti’s Liberal government, the role of Socialism and Mussolini’s skill and opportunism. Overall, the growth in support played a very minor role in Mussolini’s appointment to power, and getting the position was mostly due to his ability to manipulate events to his advantage.
Mussolini’s appointment as Prime Minister was partially due to the growth in support for Fascism, both through membership and electoral vote. The manifesto appealed to a wide range of people, such as the Industrialists who resented the Socialist trade unions, the Middle classes who had a fear of a Socialist revolution, and the Army and ex-military, who even went as far as providing transportation and weapons for Squadristi; out of hatred for the Socialists who had worked in the factories during the war rather than fighting on the frontline. All these groups supported the Fascist cause, and it was this backing from the elite, which put the King under an immense amount of pressure that eventually led to him choosing Mussolini as Prime Minister. Many young people also became part of the Fascist movement as they enjoyed the violence and the excitement of it, all which contrasted with their dull everyday lives. The movement grew rapidly, going from 80,476 members to 218,453 in 1921 in just 9 months. However this didn’t make a huge difference in the number of votes they received, as they went...
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