Italian general election, 1929

Italian general election, 1929
Kingdom of Italy
24 March 1929

All 535 seats to the Chamber of Deputies of the Kingdom of Italy
  Majority party
Leader Benito Mussolini
Party Fascist Party
Seats won 400
(Sole legal party)
Seat change Increase26
Popular vote 8,517,838
Percentage 98.43%
Swing Increase37%

Prime Minister before election

Benito Mussolini
Fascist Party

Elected Prime Minister

Benito Mussolini
Fascist Party

General elections were held in Italy on 24 March 1929. Following a parliamentary reform enacted in 1928 by the Chamber of Deputies and Senate, the elections were held in the form of a referendum, with the Grand Council of the National Fascist Party, now an official state organ, allowed to compose a single party list to be either approved or rejected by the voters. The list put forward was ultimately approved by 98.43% of voters.[1]

Electoral system

The universal male suffrage, which was legal since 1912, was restricted only to men who were members of a trade union or an association, to soldiers and to members of the clergy; and for this only 9,5 million of people were admitted to vote.

The election took place in a plebiscite form; voters could vote "Yes" or "No" to approve the list of deputies appointed by the Grand Council of Fascism. The voter was equipped with two equal-sized sheets, white outside, inside bearing the words "Do you approved the list of members appointed by the Grand National Council of Fascism?" The electoral paper with the "Yes" was also accompanied by the Italian tricolour and a fasces, the "No" one was only a white paper without any symbol.

The voter must vote at the time of collecting both cards; inside the voting booth was a first ballot box where the voter left the discarded card and then deliver to the scrutineers chosen paper, so that they would ensure that it was "carefully sealed". This process did not assure that the vote was really secret.

Moreover, if the "No" would win, the election had to be repeated, with the ammission of other electoral lists.[2]

Historical background

The previous election was shocked by the assassination of the socialist leader Giacomo Matteotti, who had requested that the elections must be annulled because of the irregularities,[3] provoked a momentary crisis in the Mussolini government. Mussolini ordered a cover-up, but witnesses saw the car that transported Matteotti's body parked outside Matteotti's residence, which linked Amerigo Dumini to the murder.

Mussolini later confessed that a few resolute men could have altered public opinion and started a coup that would have swept fascism away. Dumini was imprisoned for two years. On his release Dumini allegedly told other people that Mussolini was responsible, for which he served further prison time.

The opposition parties responded weakly or were generally unresponsive. Many of the socialists, liberals, and moderates boycotted Parliament in the Aventine Secession, hoping to force Victor Emmanuel to dismiss Mussolini.

On 31 December 1924, MVSN consuls met with Mussolini and gave him an ultimatum—crush the opposition or they would do so without him. Fearing a revolt by his own militants, Mussolini decided to drop all trappings of democracy.[4] On 3 January 1925, Mussolini made a truculent speech before the Chamber in which he took responsibility for squadristi violence (though he did not mention the assassination of Matteotti).[5]

Between 1925 and 1927, Mussolini progressively dismantled virtually all constitutional and conventional restraints on his power, thereby building a police state. A law passed on Christmas Eve 1925 changed Mussolini's formal title from "president of the Council of Ministers" to "head of the government" (though he was still called "Prime Minister" by most non-Italian outlets). He was no longer responsible to Parliament and could only be removed by the king. While the Italian constitution stated that ministers were only responsible to the sovereign, in practice it had become all but impossible to govern against the express will of Parliament. The Christmas Eve law ended this practice, and also made Mussolini the only person competent to determine the body's agenda. This law transformed Mussolini's government into a de facto legal dictatorship. Local autonomy was abolished, and podestàs appointed by the Italian Senate replaced elected mayors and councils.


Summary of the 24 March 1929 Chamber of Deputies election results
Choice Votes % Seats +/−
National Fascist Party8,517,83898.43400+26
Invalid/blank votes8,209
Registered voters/turnout9,638,85989.86
Source: Direct Democracy
Popular vote
Fascist Party


  1. Italy, 24 May 1929: Fascist single list Direct Democracy (German)
  2. Testo Unico 2 settembre 1928, n. 1993
  3. Speech of 30 May 1924 the last speech of Matteotti, from it.wikisource
  4. Paxton, Robert (2004). The Anatomy of Fascism. New York City: Alfred A. Knopf. ISBN 1-4000-4094-9.
  5. Mussolini, Benito. "discorso sul delitto Matteotti". Retrieved 24 June 2013.
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