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1924 Italian general election

← 1921 6 April 1924 1929 →

All 535 seats to the Chamber of Deputies of the Kingdom of Italy
  Majority party Minority party Third party
 
Leader Benito Mussolini Alcide De Gasperi Giacomo Matteotti
Party National List People's Party Unitary Socialist Party
Seats won 374 39 24
Seat change new party Decrease69 new party
Popular vote 4,653,488 645,789 422,957
Percentage 64.9% 9.0% 5.9%
Swing new party Decrease11.4% new party

Prime Minister before election

Benito Mussolini
National Fascist Party

Elected Prime Minister

Benito Mussolini
National Fascist Party

General elections were held in Italy on 6 April 1924 to elect the members of the Chamber of Deputies.[1] 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.[2] The National List of Benito Mussolini (an alliance of Catholic, liberal and conservative political parties) used intimidation tactics against voters,[2] resulting in a landslide victory and a subsequent two-thirds majority. This was the last multi-party election in Italy until 1946.

Electoral system

This was the first and only multi-party general election held under the terms of the Acerbo Law. The Acerbo Law had been adopted by Parliament in November 1923, and it 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.[3]

Historical background

On 22 October 1922, the leader of the National Fascist Party Benito Mussolini attempted a coup d'état which was titled by the Fascist propaganda the March on Rome in which took part almost 30,000 Fascists. The quadrumvirs leading the Fascist Party, General Emilio De Bono, Italo Balbo (one of the most famous ras), Michele Bianchi and Cesare Maria de Vecchi, organized the March while the Duce stayed behind for most of the march, though he allowed pictures to be taken of him marching along with the Fascist marchers. Generals Gustavo Fara and Sante Ceccherini assisted to the preparations of the March of 18 October. Other organizers of the march included the Marquis Dino Perrone Compagni and Ulisse Igliori.

Benito Mussolini and Fascist Blackshirts during the March on Rome in October 1922
Benito Mussolini and Fascist Blackshirts during the March on Rome in October 1922

On 24 October, Mussolini declared before 60,000 people at the Fascist Congress in Naples: "Our program is simple: we want to rule Italy".[4] Blackshirts occupied some strategic points of the country and began to move on the capital. On 26 October, former Prime Minister Antonio Salandra warned current Prime Minister Luigi Facta that Mussolini was demanding his resignation and that he was preparing to march on Rome. However, Facta did not believe Salandra and thought that Mussolini would govern quietly at his side. To meet the threat posed by the bands of Fascist troops now gathering outside Rome, Facta (who had resigned, but continued to hold power) ordered a state of siege for Rome. Having had previous conversations with the King about the repression of Fascist violence, he was sure the King would agree.[5] However, King Victor Emmanuel III refused to sign the military order.[6] On 28 October, the King handed power to Mussolini, who was supported by the military, the business class and the right wing.

The march itself was composed of fewer than 30,000 men, but the King feared a civil war as he did not consider strong enough previous government while Fascism was no longer seen as a threat to the establishment. Mussolini was asked to form his cabinet on 29 October while some 25,000 Blackshirts were parading in Rome. Mussolini thus legally reached power in accordance with the Statuto Albertino, the Italian constitution. The March on Rome was not the conquest of power which Fascism later celebrated, but rather the precipitating force behind a transfer of power within the framework of the constitution. This transition was made possible by the surrender of public authorities in the face of Fascist intimidation. Many business and financial leaders believed it would be possible to manipulate Mussolini, whose early speeches and policies emphasized free market and laissez-faire economics.[7]

Postcard promoted by the Fascist propaganda, showing their view of the conflict between fascists and socialists
Postcard promoted by the Fascist propaganda, showing their view of the conflict between fascists and socialists

This would later prove overly optimistic, as the Great Depression affected Italy along with the rest of the world starting in 1929, and Mussolini responded to it by increasing the role of the state in the economy to avoid a banking crisis.[8] Back in October 1922, even though the coup failed in giving power directly to the Fascist Party, it nonetheless resulted in a parallel agreement between Mussolini and King Victor Emmanuel III that made Mussolini the head of the Italian government. A few weeks after the election, the leader of the Unitary Socialist Party Giacomo Matteotti requested, during his speech in front of the Parliament that the elections be annulled because of the irregularities.[9] On June 10, Matteotti was assassinated by Fascist Blackshirts and his murder provoked a momentary crisis in the Mussolini government.

The opposition parties responded weakly or were generally unresponsive. Many of the socialists, liberals and moderates boycotted Parliament in the Aventine Secession, hoping to force King Victor Emmanuel III to dismiss Mussolini[citation needed].

On 31 December 1924, Blackshirt leaders met with Mussolini and gave him an ultimatum—crush the opposition or they would do so without him. Fearing a revolt by his own militants, he decided to drop all trappings of democracy.[10]

On 3 January 1925, Mussolini made a truculent speech before the Chamber of Deputies in which he took responsibility for squadristi violence (though he did not mention the assassination of Matteotti).[11] This speech usually is taken as the beginning of the Fascist dictatorship because it was followed by several laws restricting or canceling common democratic liberties, all rubber-stamped by a Fascist-controlled Parliament.

Parties and leaders

Party Ideology Leader
National List (LN) Italian Fascism Benito Mussolini
Italian People's Party (PPI) Christian democracy Alcide De Gasperi
Unitary Socialist Party (PSU) Social democracy Giacomo Matteotti
Italian Socialist Party (PSI) Socialism Tito Oro Nobili
Communist Party of Italy (PCdI) Communism Antonio Gramsci
Italian Liberal Party (PLI) Liberalism Luigi Facta
Democratic Liberal Party (PLD) Social liberalism Francesco Saverio Nitti
Italian Republican Party (PRI) Republicanism Eugenio Chiesa

Coalitions

Coalition Parties
Majority
National List (LN)
Italian People's Party (PPI)
Italian Liberal Party (PLI)
Democratic Liberal Party (PLD)
Italian Social Democratic Party (PDSI)
Opposition
Unitary Socialist Party (PSU)
Italian Socialist Party (PSI)
Communist Party of Italy (PCdI)
Italian Republican Party (PRI)

Results

Ballot paper used in the election
Ballot paper used in the election
Summary of the 6 April 1924 Chamber of Deputies election results
Party Votes % Seats +/−
National List 4,305,936 60.09 355 +250
Italian People's Party 645,789 9.01 39 −69
Unitary Socialist Party 422,957 5.90 24 New
Italian Socialist Party 360,694 5.03 22 −101
National List bis 347,552 4.85 19 New
Communist Party of Italy 268,191 3.74 19 +4
Italian Liberal Party 233,521 3.27 15 −28
Democratic Liberal Party 157,932 2.20 14 −54
Italian Republican Party 133,714 1.87 7 +1
Italian Social Democratic Party 111,035 1.55 10 −19
Peasants' Party of Italy 73,569 1.03 4 New
Lists of Slavs and Germans 62,491 0.87 4 −5
Sardinian Action Party 24,059 0.34 2 New
National Fasces 18,062 0.25 1 New
Invalid/blank votes 448,949
Total 7,614,451 100 535 ±0
Registered voters/turnout 11,939,452 63.8
Popular vote
LN
64.94%
PPI
9.01%
PSU
5.90%
PSI
5.03%
PCdI
3.74%
PLI
3.26%
PLD
2.20%
PRI
1.87%
PDSI
1.55%
Others
2.49%
Parliamentary seats
LN
69.91%
PPI
7.29%
PSU
4.49%
PSI
4.11%
PCdI
3.55%
PLI
2.80%
PLD
2.62%
PDSI
1.87%
PRI
1.31%
Others
2.06%

Results by region

Region First party Second party Third party
Abruzzo-Molise LN PSU PLD
Apulia LN PLI PCdI
Basilicata LN PLD PSDI
Calabria LN PLD PSDI
Campania LN PLD PSU
Emilia-Romagna LN PPI PSU
Lazio LN PPI PSI
Liguria LN PSU PPI
Lombardy LN PPI PSU
Marche LN PPI PSU
Piedmont LN PLI PSU
Sardinia LN PSdAz PPI
Sicily LN PSDI PLD
Trentino LN PPI SeT
Tuscany LN PSU PPI
Umbria LN PPI PSI
Veneto LN PPI PSI
Venezia Giulia LN PPI SeT

References

  1. ^ Dieter Nohlen & Philip Stöver (2010) Elections in Europe: A data handbook, p1047 ISBN 978-3-8329-5609-7
  2. ^ a b Nohlen & Stöver, p1033
  3. ^ 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. Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
  4. ^ Carsten (1982), p.62
  5. ^ Chiapello (2012), p.123
  6. ^ Carsten (1982), p.64
  7. ^ Carsten (1982), p.76
  8. ^ T Gianni Toniolo, editor, The Oxford Handbook of the Italian Economy Since Unification, Oxford University Press (2013) p. 58.
  9. ^ Speech of 30 May 1924
  10. ^ Paxton, Robert (2004). The Anatomy of Fascism. New York City: Alfred A. Knopf. ISBN 1-4000-4094-9. - Read online, registration required
  11. ^ Mussolini, Benito. "discorso sul delitto Matteotti". wikisource.it. Retrieved 24 June 2013.