Giovanni Giolitti  (1842-1928)

was appointed to the position of Prime Minister of Italy five times between 1892 and 1921.  He was unsuccessful in keeping Italy out of  World War I (1914-1918).

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Giolitti, a progressive Liberal was premier from 1892 to 1893, from 1903 to 1905, from 1906 to 1909, from 1911 to 1914, and from 1920 to 1921.  He first entered parliament in 1882 and held the position of  Minister of Finance from 1889 to 1990. He was accused of political corruption including controlling elections in Southern Italy and of "reorganizing" coalitions.  The expression "Giolittismo" stands for the era from 1900 to 1924 during which Giolitti's corruption practices were the boldest.  He opposed Italian participation in WW 1 but failed and lost his premiership in 1914. He was instrumental in making it possible that the Fascists won 35 seats in the chamber during the 1921 elections thus helping Benito Mussolini gain power.  He remained silent to the increasing Fascist brutality until after November 1924, at what time he opposed Mussolini openly.  

1842 Giovanni Giolitti is born in Mondovi (Piemonte) on October 27 to his father Giovenale Giolitti, an officer of the court and mother Enrichetta Plochił;
1861 Giolitti graduates from the law school at the university of Turin;
1869 After a short tenure at the royal court in Turin he transfers to the Italian Government and is appointed to Secretary of State; 
1872 Giolitti is appointed to the position of Secretary General of the Ministry of Finance and moves to Rome;
1882 Prime Minister Agostino Depretis (1813-1887) appoints Giolitti to Privy Council. He is also a Liberal member of the Italian Parliament;
1885 Giolitti openly opposes Prime Minister Depretis and leads the opposition with respect to financial policies;
1889 Giolitti is nominated Minister of Finance (Treasury Secretary) by Prime Minister Crispi;
1890 Giolitti steps down as Minister and becomes the lead opponent to Italy's financial policies representing the leftist liberal party;
1892 Giolitti is nominated Prime Minister;
1893 Following accusations of foul play and involvement in a substantial bank scandal, Giolitti steps down as Prime Minister;
1901-
1903
King Vittorio Emanuele III nominates Giolitti Minister of Interior under Prime Minister Zanardelli.  Given his vast experience in government affairs he is viewed as the actual head of state and succeeds in molding most of the government policies;
1903-
1905
As Prime Minister he attempts to integrate the Italian workers and labor movement with the liberal Monarchy. He believes that succeeding in this unification would promote Italy's industrialization;
1906-
1909
Now a Prime Minister for the 3d time, Giolitti moves Italy away from the Tri-State treaty Italy enjoyed with the Austria-Hungarian and the German Monarchies over issues of power over the Balkan states;
1911 Giolitti is nominated Prime Minister for the 4th time.  His attempt to facilitate the participation of the Socialist Party in the Italian government fails due to opposition of the party's revolutionary wing; 
1912 Introduction of General Elections and government controlled Social (Security) Insurance;
1914 Following parliamentary elections in February that led to increased power by Conservatives and the Socialists, Giolitti steps down as Prime Minister.  By August, the debate about Italy's participation in WW1 leads to a strongly divided Italy. The Nationalists and radical Republicans favor Italy's participation while the parliamentary majority led by Giolitti favor neutrality;
1915 Giolitti becomes Leader of the Opposition in May and hopes that his party's parliamentary majority will help bring the Salandra government down. During mass demonstrations, the poet Gabriele D'Annunzio agitates the crowd to kill Giolitti. Giolitti's departure from Rome finally leads to the break-up of the opposition by the Neutralist party;
1915-
1918
Italy participates in WW1 under the Entente. However at the conclusion of the war, Italy is not awarded the Balkan territories it requested;
1920 In the wake of post war's political and economic crisis, Giolitti is again nominated Prime Minister. He signs an accord with Yugoslavia and ends the occupation of the city Fiume (today known as Rijeka) by force;
1921- 1922 Giolitti steers Italy on an integration course  to include the first-time elected Fascists.  As he fails in this attempt, he steps down as Prime Minister and limits himself to the Opposition; (He is followed by Luigi Facta in 1922)
1926 Giolitti openly opposes Benito Mussolini's government;
1928 In what was to be his last major speech to the parliament, 85-years old Giolitti calls for opposition to Mussolini's proposed election reform which in his words was equal to the dissolution of the constitution. Giovanni Giolitti dies on July 17 in Cavour, Piedmont.
   

Sources: Microsoft Encarta, The Columbia encyclopedia. Sixth edition;  "Die Bibliography von Giovanni Giolitti".
Last Updated: 06/09/2003 21:53