Acerbo Law

The Acerbo Law was an Italian electoral law proposed by Baron Giacomo Acerbo and passed by the Italian Parliament in November 1923. The purpose of it was to give Mussolini's fascist party a majority of deputies. The law was used only in the 1924 general election, which was the last competitive election held in Italy until 1946.

Background

In 1922, Italian Prime Minister Benito Mussolini became the leader of Fascist Italy as a result of the March on Rome. However, he still only had 35 deputies in Parliament and 10 Nationalist allies. He was in a weak position and relied on the coalition with other parties that could easily unravel and force King Victor Emmanuel III to dismiss him. The idea was to change the voting system from proportional representation to a system which would allow Mussolini to have a clear majority.

Terms of the law

The Acerbo Law stated that the party gaining the largest share of the votes – provided they had gained at least 25 percent of the votes – gained two-thirds of the seats in parliament. The remaining third was shared amongst the other parties proportionally.[1]

Reasoning

Mussolini could only count on the support of 35 Fascist deputies and 10 Nationalists. The law was passed on a majority vote. The obvious question is why a majority of deputies from other parties voted for the law knowing that one way or another Mussolini would gain the 25% required. The Socialists voted against it but made no effort to coordinate other parties to oppose it. The PPI or Popolari were divided and leaderless after Mussolini had engineered the dismissal of Luigi Sturzo. The official policy was to abstain but 14 deputies voted for the measure. The smaller Liberal parties generally voted in favour. They lacked clear direction and many believed Mussolini's talk of strong government or hoped to keep their positions. There is no doubt that the presence of armed squadristi in the Chamber intimidated many into voting for the measure.

The 1924 election

An election was held straight afterwards under the new rules. The result has to be viewed with some suspicion given widespread violence, intimidation and vote rigging. His opponents were demoralised and unable to put up any coordinated opposition. Also many of the new Fascist deputies were ex-Liberal deputies who commanded a substantial personal following especially in the South.[2]

References

  1. ^ Boffa, Federico (2004-02-01). "Italy and the Antitrust Law: an Efficient Delay?" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 2009-03-05. Retrieved 2008-10-05.
  2. ^ DeGrand, Alexander (1995). Fascist Italy and Nazi Germany. New York, New York: Routledge. p. 26. ISBN 0-415-10598-6.
1924 Italian general election

General elections were held in Italy on 6 April 1924. They were held under the Acerbo Law, which stated that the party with the largest share of the votes would automatically receive two-thirds of the seats in Parliament as long as they received over 25% of the vote. The National List of Benito Mussolini (an alliance with Catholics, liberals and conservatives) used intimidation tactics, resulting in a landslide victory and a subsequent two-thirds majority. This was the last multi-party election in Italy until 1946.

1926 Sammarinese general election

General elections were held in San Marino on 12 December 1926 to elect the eighth term of the Grand and General Council. It was a sham election, all opposition being prevented to participate by internal and Italian threats. After it had taken over the country in April 1923, the Sammarinese Fascist Party was the only party to contest the elections, winning all 60 seats, while the official report spoke of a sole dissident bullet. A new electoral law guaranteed safe undisputed seats to the two incumbent Captains Regents.

Alcide De Gasperi

Alcide Amedeo Francesco De Gasperi (Italian: [alˈtʃiːde de ˈɡasperi]; 3 April 1881 – 19 August 1954) was an Italian statesman who founded the Christian Democracy party.From 1945 to 1953, De Gasperi was the Prime Minister of Italy, leading eight successive coalition governments. He was the last Prime Minister of the Kingdom of Italy, serving under both Victor Emmanuel III and Umberto II. He was also the first Prime Minister of the Italian Republic, and also briefly served as provisional head of state after the Italian people voted to end the monarchy and establish a republic. His eight-year term in office remains a landmark of political longevity for a leader in modern Italian politics. De Gasperi is the fifth longest-serving Prime Minister since the Italian Unification.

A Catholic, he was one of the founding fathers of the European Union along with fellow Italian Altiero Spinelli.

Aventine Secession (20th century)

The Aventine Secession was the withdrawal of the Italian Socialist Party from the Italian Chamber of Deputies in 1924–25, following the murder of Giacomo Matteotti. It was named after the Aventine Secession in ancient Rome, and heralded the assumption of total power by Benito Mussolini and his National Fascist Party and the establishment of a one-party dictatorship.

Benito Mussolini

Benito Amilcare Andrea Mussolini (Italian: [beˈniːto mussoˈliːni]; 29 July 1883 – 28 April 1945) was Prime Minister of the Kingdom of Italy from his golpe in 1922 to 1943, and Duce of Fascism from 1919 to his execution in 1945 during the Italian civil war. As dictator of Italy and founder of fascism, Mussolini inspired several totalitarian rulers such as Adolf Hitler.A journalist and politician, Mussolini had been a leading member of the National Directorate of the Italian Socialist Party (PSI) from 1910 to 1914, but was expelled from the PSI for advocating military intervention in World War I, in opposition to the party's stance on neutrality. Mussolini served in the Royal Italian Army during the war until he was wounded and discharged in 1917. Mussolini denounced the PSI, his views now centering on nationalism instead of socialism and later founded the fascist movement which came to oppose egalitarianism and class conflict, instead advocating "revolutionary nationalism" transcending class lines. Following the March on Rome in October 1922, Mussolini became the youngest Prime Minister in Italian history until the appointment of Matteo Renzi in February 2014. After removing all political opposition through his secret police and outlawing labor strikes, Mussolini and his followers consolidated their power through a series of laws that transformed the nation into a one-party dictatorship. Within five years, Mussolini had established dictatorial authority by both legal and extraordinary means and aspired to create a totalitarian state. In 1929, Mussolini signed the Lateran Treaty with the Vatican, ending decades of struggle between the Italian state and the Papacy, and recognized the independence of Vatican City.

Mussolini's foreign policy aimed to expand the sphere of influence of Italian fascism. In 1923, he began the "Pacification of Libya" and ordered the bombing of Corfu in retaliation for the murder of an Italian general. In 1936, Mussolini formed Italian East Africa (AOI) by merging Eritrea, Somalia and Ethiopia following the Abyssinian crisis and the Second Italo–Ethiopian War. In 1939, Italian forces occupied Albania. Between 1936 and 1939, Mussolini ordered the successful Italian military intervention in Spain in favor of Francisco Franco during the Spanish civil war. At the same time, Mussolini's Italy tried to avoid the outbreak of a second global war and took part in the Stresa front, the Lytton Report, the Treaty of Lausanne, the Four-Power Pact and the Munich Agreement. However, Italy distanced Britain and France by forming the axis powers with Germany and Japan. Germany invaded Poland on 1 September 1939, resulting in declarations of war by France and the UK and the start of World War II.

On 10 June 1940—with the Fall of France imminent—Italy officially entered the war and occupied parts of south-east France, Corsica and Tunisia. Mussolini planned to concentrate Italian forces on a major offensive against the British Empire in Africa and the Middle East, while expecting the collapse of the UK in the European theatre. The Italians invaded Egypt, bombed Mandatory Palestine, and occupied British Somaliland with initial success. However, the British government refused to accept proposals for a peace that would involve accepting Axis victories in Eastern and Western Europe; plans for an invasion of the UK did not proceed and the war continued. In October 1940, Mussolini sent Italian forces into Greece, starting the Greco-Italian War. The British air force prevented the Italian invasion and allowed the Greeks to push the Italians back to Albania.The Balkan campaign was significantly prolonged until the definition of the Axis occupation of Greece and Yugoslavia. Furthermore, the German invasion of the Soviet Union and the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbour forced Mussolini to send an Italian army in Russia and declare war on the United States. Mussolini was aware that Italy, whose resources were reduced by the campaigns of the 1930s, was not ready for a long conflict against three superpowers but opted to remain in the conflict to not abandon the fascist imperial ambitions. In 1943, Italy suffered major disasters: by February the Red Army had completely destroyed the Italian Army in Russia; in May the Axis collapsed in North Africa despite previous Italian resistance at the second battle of El Alamein. On 9 July the Anglo-Americans invaded Sicily; and by the 16th it became clear the German summer offensive in the USSR had failed. As a consequence, early on 25 July, the Grand Council of Fascism passed a motion of no confidence for Mussolini; later that day the King dismissed him as head of government and had him placed in custody, appointing Pietro Badoglio to succeed him as Prime Minister.

After the king agreed the armistice with the allies, on 12 September 1943 Mussolini was rescued from captivity in the Gran Sasso raid by German paratroopers and Waffen-SS commandos led by Major Otto-Harald Mors. Adolf Hitler, after meeting with the rescued former dictator, then put Mussolini in charge of a puppet regime in northern Italy, the Italian Social Republic (Italian: Repubblica Sociale Italiana, RSI), informally known as the Salò Republic. In late April 1945, in the wake of near total defeat, Mussolini and his mistress Clara Petacci attempted to flee to Switzerland, but both were captured by Italian communist partisans and summarily executed by firing squad on 28 April 1945 near Lake Como. His body was then taken to Milan, where it was hung upside down at a service station to publicly confirm his demise.

Fascism

Fascism () is a form of radical, right-wing, authoritarian ultranationalism, characterized by dictatorial power, forcible suppression of opposition, and strong regimentation of society and of the economy, which came to prominence in early 20th-century Europe. The first fascist movements emerged in Italy during World War I before it spread to other European countries. Opposed to liberalism, Marxism, and anarchism, fascism is placed on the far-right within the traditional left–right spectrum.Fascists saw World War I as a revolution that brought massive changes to the nature of war, society, the state, and technology. The advent of total war and the total mass mobilization of society had broken down the distinction between civilians and combatants. A "military citizenship" arose in which all citizens were involved with the military in some manner during the war. The war had resulted in the rise of a powerful state capable of mobilizing millions of people to serve on the front lines and providing economic production and logistics to support them, as well as having unprecedented authority to intervene in the lives of citizens.Fascists believe that liberal democracy is obsolete and regard the complete mobilization of society under a totalitarian one-party state as necessary to prepare a nation for armed conflict and to respond effectively to economic difficulties. Such a state is led by a strong leader—such as a dictator and a martial government composed of the members of the governing fascist party—to forge national unity and maintain a stable and orderly society. Fascism rejects assertions that violence is automatically negative in nature and views political violence, war, and imperialism as means that can achieve national rejuvenation. Fascists advocate a mixed economy, with the principal goal of achieving autarky (national economic self-sufficiency) through protectionist and interventionist economic policies.Since the end of World War II in 1945, few parties have openly described themselves as fascist, and the term is instead now usually used pejoratively by political opponents. The descriptions neo-fascist or post-fascist are sometimes applied more formally to describe parties of the far-right with ideologies similar to, or rooted in, 20th-century fascist movements.

Fascism and ideology

The history of Fascist ideology is long and involves many sources. Fascists took inspiration from sources as ancient as the Spartans for their focus on racial purity and their emphasis on rule by an elite minority. Fascism has also been connected to the ideals of Plato, though there are key differences between the two. Fascism styled itself as the ideological successor to Rome, particularly the Roman Empire. The Enlightenment-era concept of a "high and noble" Aryan culture as opposed to a "parasitic" Semitic culture was core to Nazi racial views. From the same era, Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel's view on the absolute authority of the state also strongly influenced Fascist thinking. The French Revolution was a major influence insofar as the Nazis saw themselves as fighting back against many of the ideas which it brought to prominence, especially liberalism, liberal democracy and racial equality, whereas on the other hand Fascism drew heavily on the revolutionary ideal of nationalism. Common themes among fascist movements include; nationalism (including racial nationalism), hierarchy and elitism, militarism, quasi-religion, masculinity and voluntarism. Other aspects of fascism such as its "myth of decadence", anti‐egalitarianism and totalitarianism can be seen to originate from these ideas. These fundamental aspects however, can be attributed to a concept known as "Palingenetic ultranationalism", a theory proposed by Roger Griffin, that fascism is essentially populist ultranationalism sacralized through the myth of national rebirth and regeneration.

Its relationship with other ideologies of its day was complex, often at once adversarial and focused on co-opting their more popular aspects. Fascists supported limited, nominally private property rights and the profit motive of capitalism, but sought to eliminate the autonomy of large-scale capitalism by consolidating power with the state. They shared many of the goals of the conservatives of their day and often allied themselves with them by drawing recruits from disaffected conservative ranks, but presented themselves as holding a more modern ideology, with less focus on things like traditional religion. Fascism opposed the egalitarian (Völkisch equality) and international character of mainstream socialism, but sometimes sought to establish itself as an alternative "national" socialism. It strongly opposed liberalism, classical liberalism, communism, anarchism, and democratic socialism.

Giacomo Acerbo

Giacomo Acerbo, Baron of Aterno (25 July 1888 – 9 January 1969) was an Italian economist and Fascist politician who drafted the Acerbo Law which solidified Benito Mussolini's position once in power.

Giovinezza

"Giovinezza" (pronounced [dʒoviˈnettsa] – Italian for "Youth") is the official hymn of the Italian National Fascist Party, regime, and army, and was the unofficial national anthem of Italy between 1924 and 1943. Although often sung with the official national anthem Marcia Reale, some sources consider Giovinezza to have supplanted the Royal March as the de facto national anthem (Inno della Patria) of Italy, to the dismay of Victor Emmanuel III of Italy—a powerful symbol of the diarchy between the King and Mussolini. It was subsequently the official anthem of the Italian Social Republic.Ubiquitous in fascist Italy, the hymn emphasized youth as a theme of the fascist movement and was one example of the centrality of the Arditi (Italian World War I veterans) to the fascist narrative.

Italian Fascism

Italian Fascism (Italian: fascismo italiano), also known as Classical Fascism or simply Fascism, is the original fascist ideology as developed in Italy. The ideology is associated with a series of three political parties led by Benito Mussolini, namely the Revolutionary Fascist Party (PFR) founded in 1915, the succeeding National Fascist Party (PNF) which was renamed at the Third Fascist Congress on 7–10 November 1921 and ruled the Kingdom of Italy from 1922 until 1943 and the Republican Fascist Party that ruled the Italian Social Republic from 1943 to 1945. Italian Fascism is also associated with the post-war Italian Social Movement and subsequent Italian neo-fascist movements.

Italian Fascism was rooted in Italian nationalism, national syndicalism, revolutionary nationalism and the desire to restore and expand Italian territories, which Italian Fascists deemed necessary for a nation to assert its superiority and strength and to avoid succumbing to decay. Italian Fascists also claimed that modern Italy is the heir to ancient Rome and its legacy and historically supported the creation of an Italian Empire to provide spazio vitale ("living space") for colonization by Italian settlers and to establish control over the Mediterranean Sea.Italian Fascism promoted a corporatist economic system whereby employer and employee syndicates are linked together in associations to collectively represent the nation's economic producers and work alongside the state to set national economic policy. This economic system intended to resolve class conflict through collaboration between the classes.Italian Fascism opposed liberalism, especially classical liberalism that Mussolini and Fascist leaders denounced as "the debacle of individualism", but rather than seeking a reactionary restoration of the pre-French Revolutionary world which it considered to have been flawed, it had a forward-looking direction. Fascism was opposed to Marxist socialism because of its typical opposition to nationalism, but it was also opposed to the reactionary conservatism developed by Joseph de Maistre. It believed the success of Italian nationalism required respect for tradition and a clear sense of a shared past among the Italian people, alongside a commitment to a modernised Italy.While Fascism in Italy did not initially espouse the explicit Nordicism and antisemitism inherent to Nazi ideology, racist overtones were present in Fascist thought and policies from the beginning of Fascist rule of Italy. As Fascist Italy and Nazi Germany grew politically closer in the latter half of the 1930s, Italian laws and policies became explicitly antisemitic, including the passage of the Italian Racial Laws. When the Fascists were in power, they persecuted the Greek speakers in Italy.

Italian Parliament (1928–1939)

The Italian Parliament (1928–1939) was the parliament of Italy as it existed following the constitutional reforms enacted after the Italian general election, 1924. It was, in turn, substantially restructured in 1939. This early Fascist-era legislature was a continuation of the bicameral parliament that had existed prior to 1928, though the character, structure and responsibilities of each house (the Senate and the Chamber of Deputies) were altered to various degrees.

Kingdom of Italy

The Kingdom of Italy (Italian: Regno d'Italia) was a state which existed from 1861—when King Victor Emmanuel II of Sardinia was proclaimed King of Italy—until 1946—when civil discontent led an institutional referendum to abandon the monarchy and form the modern Italian Republic. The state was founded as a result of the unification of Italy under the influence of the Kingdom of Sardinia, which can be considered its legal predecessor state.

Italy declared war on Austria in alliance with Prussia in 1866 and received the region of Veneto following their victory. Italian troops entered Rome in 1870, thereby ending more than one thousand years of Papal temporal power. Italy entered into a Triple Alliance with Germany and Austria-Hungary in 1882, following strong disagreements with France about the respective colonial expansions. However, even if relations with Berlin became very friendly, the alliance with Vienna remained purely formal as the Italians were keen to acquire Trentino and Trieste, corners of Austria-Hungary populated by Italians. So in 1915, Italy accepted the British invitation to join the Allied Powers, as the western powers promised territorial compensation (at the expense of Austria-Hungary) for participation that was more generous than Vienna's offer in exchange for Italian neutrality. Victory in the war gave Italy a permanent seat in the Council of the League of Nations.

"Fascist Italy" is the era of National Fascist Party government from 1922 to 1943 with Benito Mussolini as head of government. The fascists imposed totalitarian rule and crushed the political and intellectual opposition, while promoting economic modernization, traditional social values and a rapprochement with the Roman Catholic Church. According to Payne (1996), "[the] Fascist government passed through several relatively distinct phases". The first phase (1923–1925) was nominally a continuation of the parliamentary system, albeit with a "legally-organized executive dictatorship". Then came the second phase, "the construction of the Fascist dictatorship proper, from 1925 to 1929". The third phase, with less activism, was 1929 to 1934. The fourth phase, 1935–1940, was characterized by an aggressive foreign policy: war against Ethiopia, launched from Italian Eritrea and Italian Somaliland, which resulted in its annexation; confrontations with the League of Nations, leading to sanctions; growing economic autarky; and the signing of the Pact of Steel. The war itself (1940–1943) was the fifth phase with its disasters and defeats, while the rump Salò Government under German control was the final stage (1943–1945).Italy was an important member of the Axis powers in World War II, battling on several fronts with initial success. However, after the German-Italian defeat in Africa and Soviet Union and the subsequent Allied landings in Sicily, King Victor Emmanuel III placed Mussolini under arrest, and the Fascist Party in areas (south of Rome) controlled by the Allied invaders was shut down. The new government signed an armistice on September 1943. German forces immediately occupied northern Italy with Fascists' help, setting up the Italian Social Republic, a collaborationist puppet state still led by Mussolini and his Fascist loyalists. As a consequence, the country descended into civil war, with the Italian Co-belligerent Army and the resistance movement contended the Social Republic's forces and its German allies. Shortly after the war and the liberation of the country, civil discontent led to the institutional referendum on whether Italy would remain a monarchy or become a republic. Italians decided to abandon the monarchy and form the Italian Republic, the present-day Italian state.

Luigi Sturzo

Luigi Sturzo (Italian pronunciation: [luˈiːdʒi ˈsturtso]; 26 November 1871 – 8 August 1959) was an Italian Roman Catholic priest and prominent politician. He was known in his lifetime as a "clerical socialist" and is considered one of the fathers of the Christian democratic platform. He was also the founder of the Luigi Sturzo Institute in 1951. Sturzo was one of the founders of the Partito Popolare Italiano in 1919, but was forced into exile in 1924 with the rise of Italian fascism. In exile in London (and later New York) he published over 400 articles (published after his death under the title Miscellanea Londinese) critical of fascism and later the post-war Christian Democrats.Sturzo's cause for canonization opened on 23 March 2002 and he is titled as a Servant of God.

Maria Elena Boschi

Maria Elena Boschi, (Italian pronunciation: [maˈriːa ˈɛːlena ˈbɔski]; born 24 January 1981), is an Italian politician and lawyer, member of the Democratic Party. From 22 February 2014 to 12 December 2016, Boschi has served as Minister for Constitutional Reforms and Relations with the Parliament, delegated to the implementation of the Government Programme in the government of Matteo Renzi. From 12 December 2016 until 1 June 2018 she was the Secretary of the Council of Ministers, in Paolo Gentiloni's cabinet; she is the first woman to hold this office. Among her supporters she is widely known with the acronym MEB.

National Fascist Party

The National Fascist Party (Italian: Partito Nazionale Fascista, PNF) was an Italian political party, created by Benito Mussolini as the political expression of fascism (previously represented by groups known as Fasci). The party ruled Italy from 1922 when Fascists took power with the March on Rome to 1943, when Mussolini was deposed by the Grand Council of Fascism.

Preceding the PNF, Mussolini's first established political party was known as the Revolutionary Fascist Party (Partito Fascista Rivoluzionario, PFR), which was founded in 1915 according to Mussolini. After poor November 1919 election results, the PFR was eventually renamed the National Fascist Party during the Third Fascist Congress in Rome on 7–10 November 1921.The National Fascist Party was rooted in Italian nationalism and the desire to restore and expand Italian territories, which Italian Fascists deemed necessary for a nation to assert its superiority and strength and to avoid succumbing to decay. Italian Fascists claimed that modern Italy is the heir to ancient Rome and its legacy and historically supported the creation of an Italian Empire to provide spazio vitale ("living space") for colonization by Italian settlers and to establish control over the Mediterranean Sea.Fascists promoted a corporatist economic system whereby employer and employee syndicates are linked together in associations to collectively represent the nation's economic producers and work alongside the state to set national economic policy. This economic system intended to resolve class conflict through collaboration between the classes.Italian Fascism opposed liberalism, but did not seek a reactionary restoration of the pre-French Revolutionary world, which it considered to have been flawed, and not in line with a forward-looking direction on policy. It was opposed to Marxist socialism because of its typical opposition to nationalism, but was also opposed to the reactionary conservatism developed by Joseph de Maistre. It believed the success of Italian nationalism required respect for tradition and a clear sense of a shared past among the Italian people alongside a commitment to a modernized Italy.The National Fascist Party along with its successor, the Republican Fascist Party, are the only parties whose re-formation is banned by the Constitution of Italy: "It shall be forbidden to reorganize, under any form whatsoever, the dissolved fascist party".

Palmiro Togliatti

Palmiro Togliatti (Italian: [palˈmiːro toʎˈʎatti] listen ; 26 March 1893 – 21 August 1964) was an Italian politician and leader of the Italian Communist Party from 1927 until his death. He was nicknamed by his supporters Il Migliore ("The Best"). In 1930 he became a citizen of the Soviet Union and later he had a city in the country named after him: Tolyatti.

Togliatti was a founding member of the Communist Party of Italy (Partito Comunista d’Italia, PCI), and from 1927 until his death, he was the Secretary and the undisputed leader of the Italian Communist Party, except for a period from 1934 to 1938 in which he had been the representative in the Comintern, the international organization of the communist parties. After the dissolution of the Comintern in 1943 and the formation of the Cominform in 1947, he refused the post of Secretary General, offered to him directly by Stalin in 1951, preferring to remain at the head of the PCI.

From 1944 to 1945 Togliatti held the post of Deputy Prime Minister and from 1945 to 1946 he was appointed Minister of Justice in the governments that ruled Italy after the fall of Fascism. He was also a member of the Constituent Assembly of Italy.

Togliatti survived an assassination attempt in 1948, and died in 1964, during a holiday in Crimea on the Black Sea.

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