Mussolini’s Rise to Power

Michael Enright,IB Diploma Candidate 2005

Benito Mussolini became the dictator of Fascist Italy. He was able to take power for a variety of reasons, which included public discontent in Italy due to the current government under King Victor Emmanuel III. The most significant and final stage of the coup of the current Italian Government was the March on Roam.

Early Career leading to his Rise:

In 1912, Mussolini got a job as an editor of Italy’s most popular Socialist Newspaper. During his career at the newspaper, he supported Italy’s involvement in the First World War; however, his perspectives were disagreed with. Thus he resigned in November of 1914.

After his resignation, Mussolini founded his own newspaper called the Il Popolo d'Italia. In this paper, he expressed the idea that Italy should take a strong position in the First World War. During the war, Mussolini also served in the army until 1917 when he was wounded.

At the conclusion of the First World War, Mussolini emphasized with many war veterans in Italy who now found themselves unemployed and dissatisfied with the current liberal Italian government. With intent to garner support, Mussolini founded the Fasci Italiani de Combattimento (Italian Combat Leagues), which later became known as the Fascists.

The Beginning of the Rise:

Prior to the March on Roam, The Fascists had found success in marching on the cities of Ferrara, Bologna, Ravenna, and Milan. The ability of the Fascist party to succeed was attributed mostly to the fact that the Italian economy under King Victor Emmanuel III was in a rather terrible state. Circa 1920 and 1921 there were widespread labor strikes, riots and high food prices that plagued Italy. Mussolini’s party, now known as the Black Shirts was able to take advantage of this level of bedlam. For example, Mussolini would offer the services of the armed divisions of the Black Shirts to eager industrialists and landlords as strikebreakers. As these efforts persisted, the liberal Italian government continuously weakened.

The March on Rome:

After victory in Ferrara, Bologna, Ravenna, and Milan, the Fascists began to speculate as to if a march on Roam would be a good idea. Mussolini was not confident that it was as the most advantageous move because in their previous victories, they had marched against local city governments and were able to win. However, if the Fascists marched on Rome, they would be marching against the central government of Italy.

On 24 October 1922, Mussolini met with some of his Black Shirt associates and planned the March on Roam. The operation would commence on 26 October 1922. First, the Fascists would seize strong points in various cities of northern Italy. Then on 28 October 1922, the Black Shirts would assemble north of Rome at three distinct points. They would then advance and try to avoid confrontation whenever possible.

The Final Rise

After the March on Roam, the Black Shirts had gained an advantage; they then forced King Victor Emmanuel III to name Mussolini the prime minister. The Italian government was agreeable with this in hopes that once Mussolini was in the government, he would abandon his aggressive tendencies. These hopes were to be bitterly disappointed because during the Italian political crisis of 1922, the Italian parliamentary government became extremely unstable. Mussolini then threatened to use force to take over if he were not allowed to attempt to create a new government. He was eventually allowed to do this as prime minister resulting in the Fascist government.