Giovanni Giolitti

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Giolitti, Giovanni


Born Oct. 27, 1842, in Mondovi; died July 17, 1928, in Cavour. Italian political and government figure. The most consistent representative of Italian liberalism of the early 20th century. Son of an official; lawyer by education.

From 1889 to 1890, Giolitti was minister of the treasury and from 1901 to 1903, minister of internal affairs. He was prime minister in the years 1892-93, 1903-05, 1906-09, 1911-14, and 1920-21. Giolittiïs name is connected with the era of the rise and fall of Italian bourgeois liberalism of the early 20th century. He tried to broaden the social base of the bourgeois regime in Italy. By means of liberal reforms and some concessions to the workers (including state insurance, the legalization of workers’ organizations, and recognition of the workers’ right to strike in 1901), Giolitti attempted to ameliorate the sharpness of class contradictions in Italy. From time to time he invited reformist leaders of the Socialist Party to take part in his government. At the same time Giolittiïs government harshly suppressed the peasants’ movement in southern Italy, increased military expenditures, and started an aggressive war against Turkey (1911-12). In 1912, Giolitti secured a broad electoral reform. During the 1913 elections, which were based on the new electoral law, the liberals formed an alliance with the clericals; the goal of the alliance was to isolate the socialists and obtain the support of Catholic organizations and the peasants who followed them. From the beginning of World War I (1914-18) Giolitti, fearing an unfavorable outcome for Italy, opposed Italy’s participation in the war and led the “neutralists’ “camp. In the atmosphere of postwar revolutionary enthusiasm the bourgeoisie again returned Giolitti to power. By means of concessions (an increase in wages and a promise to institute workers’ control of production) he helped bring about the collapse of the movement for the seizure of industrial enterprises (September 1920). He approved the coming of the Fascists to power (1922) and supported Mussoliniïs Fascist government. However, by November 1924 he passed to the opposition. In 1928 he came out against the Fascist law that abolished the parliamentary regime.


Discorsi extraparlamentari. [Turin] 1952.
Memorie della mia vita. [Milan] 1967.


Lenin, V. I.Poln. sobr. soch., 5th ed., vol. 22, p. 219; vol. 27, p. 18.
Gramsci, A. Izbr. proizv., vol. 1. Moscow, 1957. (Translated from Italian.)
Alatri, P. Proiskhozhdenie fashizma. Moscow, 1961. (Translated from Italian.)
Togliatti, P. Discorso su Giolitti. Rome, 1950.
Frassati, A. Giolitti. Florence, 1959.


References in periodicals archive ?
Between 1914 and the March on Rome, Italy had eight different Prime Ministers, all blatantly incompetent--save for the veteran Giovanni Giolitti, who was subtly incompetent--and unable to meet even the most basic Italian governmental obligation at the time, namely protecting private property against Socialist gangsterism.
As Alexander De Grand ably demonstrates in this first full biography in English, except for Camillo Cavour, Giovanni Giolitti was the greatest prime minister in Italian history.