Giolitti, Giovanni

Giolitti, Giovanni

(jōvän`nē jōlēt`tē), 1842–1928, Italian public official, five times premier (1892–93, 1903–5, 1906–9, 1911–14, 1920–21). He entered parliament in 1882 and served (1889–90) as minister of finance before becoming premier. By controlling elections, especially in S Italy, and by regrouping coalitions, he was able to maintain his political supremacy, and the period 1901–14 is often called the Age of Giolitti. A progressive Liberal despite his political corruption and practices of intimidation (called giolittismo), he favored the organization of labor and was responsible for social and agrarian reforms and the introduction (1912) of universal male suffrage. He tried to co-opt the socialist movement by bringing socialist leaders into the government. At the same time, he encouraged the entry of Roman Catholics into politics. Although he initiated the Italian conquest of Libya during his fourth ministry, he opposed Italian participation in World War I. In the troubled period of his fifth premiership, he ousted D'Annunzio from Fiume and settled the conflict with Yugoslavia in that region. He was not, however, successful in dealing with Italy's domestic crsis. Indeed, in the 1921 elections he helped Benito Mussolini by including Fascists among government-sponsored candidates, thus enabling them to win 35 seats in the chamber. Like most prewar politicians, Giolitti failed at first to condemn the increasing Fascist brutality, and only after Nov., 1924, did he openly oppose Mussolini. He is much more controversial than either, however, because of the contradiction between his generally liberal ends and the corrupt, Machiavellian means he employed in pursuing them. Along with Francesco CrispiCrispi, Francesco
, 1819–1901, Italian premier (1887–91, 1893–96), b. Sicily. After participation in the Sicilian revolt of 1848 against the repressive rule of Ferdinand II of Sicily, he went into exile to Piedmont, then to Malta and England, where he met
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, Giolitti was the most important Italian political figure between Camillo Benso CavourCavour, Camillo Benso, conte di
, 1810–61, Italian statesman, premier (1852–59, 1860–61) of the Kingdom of Sardinia. The active force behind King Victor Emmanuel II, he was responsible more than any other man for the unification of Italy under the house of
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 and Mussolini.


See his memoirs (tr. 1923, repr. 1973); study by F. J. Coppa (1971).

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.


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