After Mussolini became prime minister
in 1922, he needed to consolidate his power if he wished to make Italy the
fascist state that he wished for it to become. This was an important factor since
Mussolini believed that the democratic power of the Prime Minister was not
enough to solve Italy’s problems quickly, and he also strived to remove any
opposition from preventing him. Therefore, Mussolini was proven to be successful
in consolidating control and power in the years between 1922 and 1926.
In October 1922, after the March on
Rome, Mussolini was appointed as Prime Minister. He proceeded to create a
coalition cabinet in which only four out of 12 ministers were fascists. The
threat of communists which Mussolini used in order to take advantage of king
Victor Emmanuel, put him in a difficult position to choose between Fascists and
communists. After the King had no option other than to appoint him, the parliament
passed the vote of confidence which granted Mussolini with emergency powers for
one year. Along with the King giving him a dictatorial power to restore order and
control the socialists, the beginning of Mussolini’s rise to dictatorship and a
Fascist state had begun. To maintain his power, Mussolini created a Fascist
Grand Council, an institution which held and applied great power to control the
institutions of the government and it also had the power to appoint party
deputies, decide the heir of the throne, etc.
The next step in 1923 to secure
his power was to create a new militia, the National State Voluntary Militia.
This militia was paid by the state and recruited from the fascist squads.
Any signs of opposition could be quickly dealt with by being suppressed. Moreover,
in July 1923, after Mussolini had realized that his position was still weak
since the King could dismiss him at any time, he found a solution called the
Acerbo Law. In the presence of the Black-shirts, a fascist paramilitary group
which caused fear and terror among the deputies, the parliament was required to
vote for proportional representation bill, the Acerbo Law, which meant that any
party that got the more than 25% of the votes in a general election would
be given 2/3 of the seats in parliament. As most deputies still feared the
Left, Mussolini still had their support. In the next election, he received 66%
of the popular vote; this was an important increase from the previous numbers
of fascists voted for in the parliament and it gave Mussolini the support he
needed in order to become a dictator.
The Matteoti crisis was a key factor
in Mussolini’s consolidation of control that would determine the fate of his
dictatorship. During this crisis, the opposing deputies decided to take a stand
against Mussolini by walking out of parliament, a move called the Aventine
secession. Instead of Mussolini losing support, this left him in the parliament
without any opposition and no one to confront him. His success at confronting the
Matteoti murder was also largely due to his speech to parliament in 1925, six
months after the event. In his speech, Mussolini took responsibility but was
careful not to admit to the murder of Matteoti, resulting to no uprising from
the opposition. Mussolini continued by saying that he would begin a dictatorship.
This was the ultimate consolidation of power, as Mussolini was not met with any
opposition, but rather support. He had ridden out the crisis with more support and
went on to establish the dictatorship by ordering powers so he could pass different
laws by decree.
Overall, it is clear that Mussolini
was successful in consolidating his power in the years between 1922 and 1926.
His first few years in power had many problems, but despite all these he
managed to achieve more successes than failures. He controlled the parliament, strengthened
his party and gained lots of support. All these, combined with Mussolini’s
personal skills as a politician, allowed him to consolidate power in the years
of his ruling.