Opposition to Mussolini

Opposition to Mussolini from Left-Wing Parties

  • The Socialists and Communists were some of the most vocal opponents to Mussolini. They declared the Fascist regime illegitimate and called for active resistance.

  • However, being illegal and forced underground, their opposition was largely ineffective. They also lacked unity and international support.

Opposition from Catholic Church

  • The Catholic Church, once a steady supporter of fascist regime, stripped away its support after the forced dissolution of the Catholic Popolari party.

  • In 1931, Pope Pius XI issued an encyclical letter Non Abbiamo Bisogno criticising Italian Fascism for its breach of the Lateran Pacts and its infringements on the Church’s rights. However, the Church still remained largely obedient to the regime.

Opposition from Intellectuals

  • Some intellectuals, including writer Gaetano Salvemini and senator Luigi Albertini, openly criticised Mussolini and were forced into exile. They tried to shape international opinion against Mussolini and campaigned for sanctions against Italy.

  • However, many intellectuals were co-opted and silenced through repression or propaganda of the Fascist regime.

Opposition from the Monarchy

  • King Victor Emmanuel III, although often appeared to be a keen supporter of Mussolini, secretly held meetings with opposition leaders in the late 1930s to figure out a way to remove Mussolini from power without too much violence.

  • However, lack of a united front among the opposition and the King’s own hesitations prevented him from acting against Mussolini until the very last moment in 1943.

Internal Dissensions in the Fascist Party

  • There also was opposition from within in the form of The Aventine Secession – moderate Fascists, who objected to Mussolini’s violent tactics and were critical of his policies, walked out of the Parliament to create an “Aventine Parliament”.

  • However, after the murder of Giacomo Matteotti, most of them rejoined the Parliament fearing retribution from Mussolini’s black-shirted paramilitary.

Despite these oppositions, none effectively challenged Mussolini’s grip on power until 1943, largely due to the violent repression imposed by the regime and divisions among the opposition.