Mussolini was very ambitious about his domestic policies. These policies can be categories in; economic, political and social policies. In a speech to the Italian Senate in 1923 Mussolini said; ” I want to make the people of Italy strong, prosperous and free.” Italians were expecting a lot from their new “Duce”, especially with the social and economic problems Italy was going through during the post war years. As the new leader of Italy, Mussolini knew he had to solve these problems, one way or another, so that this success would bring more popularity to him and the fascists.
When the Italian government finally gave power to Mussolini, he formed, in 1923, “The Fascist Grand Council” where the body was made up of fascist party and was controlled by Mussolini. The council became very important making all the decisions, and little by little making the government inactive. The police was replaced by the fascist and controlled by Mussolini. He created his own private army; the Quadri. In November 1923, the Acerbo Law was create; it consisted of giving 2/3 of seat in parliament to any party which would have got twenty five percent or over during elections.
That same year, the elections were an enormous victory for the Fascist who won these seats. The Mateotti Affair, pushed Mussolini to govern Italy by force, and by becoming the “Duce” he now had the power to make laws without consulting the parliament. Mussolini’s aim to turn into a one party state and therefore make Italy “free” from all political confrontations was very successful. Mussolini gained popularity from the Italians and now by taking such actions upon the parliament and government, Mussolini had full power of Italy and had to deal with the economic and social problems Italy was facing.
Mussolini main economic aim was to bring Italy’s economy to a somehow same level as France and Britain to threaten them and the other great industrial powers. Mussolini had difficulties with economics understanding and interest, but he knew that it was important to have a strong economy to make Italy look “strong and prosperous”.
In the early years of Fascism, Italy went through an economic recovery, thanks to the general European recovery and the end of a possible Socialist revolution, as well as the Liberal economic policies that Mussolini introduced lowering inflation and limiting government interventions. These actions especially pleased industrialists because it led to a reduction in public spending and taxes on war profits were reduced.
To get Italy on the road to an economic success, Italy went through three “battles”. The goals of the “Battle of the Marshes”, was to increase the land availability for cereal production, as well as, improving health conditions by reducing malaria. Economically, this battle provided more jobs and did improve health conditions however the raise in farming production was neglected. At the same time, this battle brought more confrontation between the divided Italy because most new land reclaimed was in the North, which made the Southern people very unhappy but could not show this through strikes as it was forbidden to do so. Mussolini failed to bring stability between the North and the South. People from the North were considered rich and literate whereas people from the South were the opposite.
The “Battle for the Lira” was the revaluation of the Lira at a higher rate to reduce inflation and prove to Italians, and the world, that the Lira, therefore Italy, was getting “stronger”. Nonetheless, this action hurt the economy by making Italians goods overpriced and by lowering wages. Mussolini decided that Italy needed to become “self-sufficient in grain”.
He hoped to reduce the balance in trade deficit and make Italy less dependent on imports during wartime. These aims led to Italy’s grain production to increase, cereal production to double, and imports of it to fall. However this made farmers forget about the other forms of agriculture, and therefore these imports rose, as well as, making the Italian diet suffer. This battle was the first major action towards autarky. Italy became “nearly self-sufficient” in cereals but not in fertilisers. Mussolini placed great stress on autarky, however this action to make Italy more self-sufficient was not successful. It did become nearly self-sufficient, but still depended on imports for important, basic needs.
Mussolini’s social policies were aimed to increase his popularity and the population of Italy. “The Battle of Births” was an attempt to create a “nation of Fascists” that Mussolini dreamed to have. More people meant more possibility of soldiers. He didn’t give much freedom of choice to neither women nor the youth. He forced, especially through education, to have the youth grow up in fascist values; “obedience, love of the Duce, nationalism and militarism.” As for women, he believed that they had to stay home and concentrate on bringing up children. They were controlled by Mussolini’s ideas of creating this strong nation of fascists. This new battle had little success; he failed in reaching his target of sixty million.
Mussolini did make big efforts to improve the welfare services. He created many organizations for the people; cheap holiday, tours, or “after work clubs”. But this idea failed to gain popularity, as there was no strong unemployment insurance, which was one of the biggest issues Italians were facing.
The Church and the Fascist had fundamental differences, but because the Church was a powerful part of Italy, Mussolini tried to improve their relations. Once again Mussolini did this to gain more popularity from the society. In 1929, the Concordat and the Lateran treaties were signed and therefore Catholicism became Italy’s religion, and Mussolini gained veto on church appointments and the support from the Church. “The Concordat has been described as Mussolini’s greatest Fascist achievement” and made Italy a little more “strong and prosperous”.
Mussolini’s policies brought in revolutionary ideas into society and did contribute to his rise of popularity as the “Duce” of Italy, despite the fact that many of his policies were surrealistic and unable to transform the Italian society. His main success was his alliance with the church. Italian’s economy did go through a phase of success but his fascist ideology made the economic problems come back, as for the political success, Mussolini achieved his main goal by making Italy be a one state party, the Fascists and took over Italy. Nevertheless, his aims “to make the people of Italy strong, prosperous and free” were very minimal because he was more interested in personal power.