chapter  3
18 Pages

The conquest and consolidation of power

Fascism’s rise to power was extremely rapid, it took Mussolini just over two and a half years from the founding of his new political movement to become Prime Minister of Italy. In another three years he was its effective master. The Fascists maintained that he achieved this remarkable feat by ‘revolution’, thus, in 1932, they celebrated their arrival in power ten years earlier with an ‘Exhibition of the Fascist Revolution’. The title of the major study in English by Adrian Lyttelton of the rise of Fascism also suggests that it was a ‘seizure of power’. On the other hand, it was clearly not an outright, forcible seizure of power in the manner of the Bolshevik revolution of 1917. Nor was the Italian Fascist Party in 1922, in contrast to the Nazi Party in Germany in 1933, an obvious choice to form a government by virtue of widespread electoral support. This suggests that, in some sense, Mussolini was ‘given’ power. If this is true then we need to know who gave it to him and why.