The Fascist rule of Benito Mussolini over Italy from 1922 to 1943 is considered a prime example of a totalitarian government. Mussolini took this to heart, embracing a philosophy on the conception of state where human and spiritual values were eliminated with the government playing the central role in all aspects of not only policy but everyday life. Mussolini and his Fascist party exercised control through means of his cult of personality, garnering tremendous support from the population through propaganda and promises of a rebirth of the greatness of the Roman empire. The regime held strong state control over the government apparatus, media, coalition parliament, gradually dismantling elements of the democratic institutions as Mussolini came into power in the early 1920’s. Further, Mussolini and his followers were well-known for their use of force to maintain control, with armed squads by the name of Black Shirts terrorized political opponents and enemies of the state to further increase the party’s grip on power (BBC, 2014).
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Traditional elections were largely eliminated under Mussolini. In 1928, parliamentary reform occurred which established the National Fascist Party (PNF) and its Grand Council as an official government entity. In the 1934 elections, voters were provided with a ballot of candidates, primarily from the PNF in which they could vote yes or no. The PNF won 99.85% of the votes, dubbing this the second Fascist referendum. Since the Black Shirts eliminated any realistic political rivals and the Italian people were greatly in support of Mussolini and his promises, there seems to be that there was no evident voter apathy. Life in Fascist Italy was strongly controlled by the state, even personal lives. A perfect citizen was expected to obey all laws of the party and venerate Mussolini while upholding the Fascist worldviews. Aspects of education, family planning, and economics were outlined and controlled by the state to create a powerful Italy in accordance to Mussolini’s endeavors (Trueman, 2015).
BBC. (2014). Benito Mussolini (1883-1945). Web.
Trueman, C. N. (2015). Life in Fascist Italy. Web.