What challenges did Mussolini face after his appointment as Prime Minister?

  • He did not have absolute control, even over the Fascist groups (a.g. Ras, squads)

• As a result, he aimed to increase control over the Fascists. With this in mind, in 1923 he created the Fascist Grand Council (which made decisions and later became the main governmental body of Fascist Italy) and a new militia called Milizia Volontaria per la Sicurezza Nazionale (MVSN) on the 23rd of March 1923.

  • His position as Prime Minister was weak and he could be easily dismissed and replaced by the King at any time.

• However, Mussolini managed to gain the support of the King. This is because the King feared communism (seeing it as...well– the biggest threat) as it would make Italy a republic. As Mussolini was anti-communist, the King supported him.

  • His position as Prime Minister was weak due to a lack of support within the Italian Parliament.

• Mussolini aimed to strengthen his position and the influence of the Fascist party through the reduction (and future elimination) of opposition.

As a result, he introduced the Acerbo law, which would remove proportional representation. The Acerbo law meant that the party which received 25% of votes would receive ⅔ of seats in Parliament. The Fascists used intimidation to ensure that politicians voted in support of passing the Acerbo Law.

In the General Elections, the fascists used voter intimidation and fraud to ensure that they amassed 25% of the votes. The Ras was also instructed to intimidate opponents in small towns.

  • The Socialists were Mussolini's closest rivals and they still had a significant presence.

• As a result, Mussolini wished to reduce the influence of socialism in Parliament and on the nation. This attracted a wealth of support from the bourgeoisie, upper class and businessmen, who especially feared a further advancement into communism.

• He reduced this threat by intimidating socialists, and attacked Socialist meetings, buildings and individuals. During voting, he also used the Blackshirts to intimidate voters.

How did the limited emergency powers help Mussolini?

In November 1922, Parliament granted Mussolini limited emergency powers for one year to allow him to deal with the country's problems.

He made some concessions to the Church (as he saw their support was vital) and passed favourable policies for industrialists and farmers and landowners.

With the extra power, he asserted the rights of Italy overseas in the Corfu Crisis and Fiume incident.

In July 1923, the Chamber (after being intimidated by Blackshirts) passed the Acerbo Law (which was named after the Fascist deputy who introduced it, Giacomo Acerbo).