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The Kingdom of Italy (Italian: Regno d'Italia) was a state forged in 1861 by the unification of Italy under the influence of the Kingdom of Sardinia which is its legal predecessor State. Existed until the formation of the Italian Social Republic by the fascists.
To the north it borders France, Switzerland, Austria-Hungary along the Alps. To the south it consists of the entirety of the Italian Peninsula, Sicily, Sardinia – the two largest islands in the Mediterranean Sea – and many other smaller islands. The independent states of San Marino and the Vatican City are enclaves within Italy, whilst Campione d'Italia is an Italian exclave in Switzerland. It also has colonies in Africa.
Italy participated in World War I, in the Mediterranean and Middle East, mainly against the Ottoman Empire. At the end of the conflict and after negotiations of Paris Conference it did not obtain any territorial gains besides Libya nor major economical compensations. The Treaty of Ravenna did not secure the influence of Italy in the Balkans nor did it gain Tyrol, Trieste, Istria and Dalmatia from Austria-Hungary. For many Italians, it showed weakness of the government to fulfill the promise of territorial gains for Italy's entry on the Allies side. The "mutilated victory", fueled irredentism and the pursuit of a Greater Italy.
Industrial and rural unrest, as result of the Russian revolution shock many. WWI brought to Italy discontent and revolt. In the north industrial cities worker's councils where briefly in control of some areas before being brought down by the army, police and nationalist fasci. The latter formed by unemployed war veterans. By 1921 it become common the violence and control of the streets by fascist against the reds (communist and socialists). In rural areas, many landowners sought the help of Fascists to keep under check peasant unrest. In 1921, Giolitti had come back as Prime Minister in an attempt to solve Italy's deadlock. One year later, Italy's government had already become unstable, and a growing socialist opposition further endangered government. It was believed by the political establishment that the Fascists could be toned down and used to protect the state from the socialists. Almost all decided to include Fascists on their electoral lists for the 1923 elections. The fascists, under Benito Mussolini, organized themselves into National Fascist Party (Partito Nazionale Fascista, PNF). In 1923, taking advantage of general strike in northern Italy, Mussolinni announced his demands to the Italian government to give the PNF political power or face a coup. With no immediate response, a small number of Fascists began a long trek across Italy to Rome which was called the March on Rome, claiming to Italians that Fascists were intending to restore law and order. The King was forced to choose which of the two rival movements in Italy would form the government: Mussolini's Fascists, or the anti-monarchist Italian Socialist Party. He selected the Fascists. On October 28, 1923, Victor Emmanuel III selected Mussolini to become Italian Prime Minister, allowing Mussolini and the PNF to pursue their political ambitions as long as they supported the monarchy and its interests.
Political parties until 1924
Before the ban of all political groups, with the exception of the PNF, in the 1924 there existed multi-party parliamentary regime. The main groups were:
- Several liberal parties and parliamentary groups, being the most relevant the Conservative liberals, Historical Right (Destra Storica), Liberal-Conservatives (Liberal-Conservatori), and Giolitti's Liberal Left (Sinistra Liberale). In 1922 they formed the Italian Liberal Party (Partito Liberale Italiano, PLI). Besides minor left liberals such as the Radical Party (Partito Radicale) and Italian Republican Party (Partito Repubblicano Italiano, PRI),
- Socialist (Partito Socialista Italiano, PSI) and Communist parties (Partito Comunista d'Italia, PCI). Anarchism, organized in the late 1920 as the Italian Anarchist Union (Unione Anarchica Italiana, UAI), associated with the Italian Workers Union (Unione Sindacale Italiana, USI),
- Italian People's Party (Partito Popolare Italiano, PPI) a Christian-democratic party, and
- National Fascist Party (Partito Nazionale Fascista, PNF).
The Mussolini and the PNF rapidly secured their position. The year 1923 became later Anno I E.F., or Year 1 of the Fascist Era.
Government and territorial organization
Italy was a constitutional monarchy until the proclamation of the social republic by the Fascists. The Statuto Albertino, the constitution of the unified Kingdom of Italy established a parliamentary system. The main aspects of it where that:
- The King alone had executive power. He was the supreme head of the state, commanded all the armed forces by sea and land, declared war, made treaties of peace, of alliance, of commerce, but gave notice of them to the two Houses as far as national interest permit. Treaties which demand any financial burden, or which would alter territorial boundaries of the state, where not have any effect until the two Houses have consented to them.
The King also appointed the ministers of state, who were solely responsible to him. With time, it became virtually impossible for a Cabinet to stay in office (let alone govern) against the express will of Parliament. As a result, notwithstanding the letter of the Statuto, it became a well-established convention that ministers were responsible to Parliament.
- The legislative power resided in a bicameral parliament composed of a Senate and a Chamber of Deputies. The Senate is appointed by the King. Members of the Chamber of Deputies were elected by a proportional representation system in in multi member districts.
- The judiciary was in charge of a Supreme Court of Cassation (ordinary justice), State Council (administrative justice), Court of Auditors, lower courts and Chief Prosecutor.
The Kingdom of Italy was divided in Provinces and Comunes. The Provinces are in charge of President of the Consiglio. The Consiglio and Deputazione that are directly elected every four years.
The comune is the local government.
The Armed Forces are organized in:
- Italian Royal Army (Regio Esercito)
- Italian Royal Navy (Regia Marina)
- Italian Royal Air Force (Regia Aeronautica)