On the 23 March 1919 after a series of Communist .
demonstrations, the almost forgotten Mussolini decided to attempt to.
revive his Fasci movement. A meeting was held in a hall in a Milan and .
was attended by some fifty malcontents. From this seemingly small and .
insignificant event the Fascio di Combattimento' (Combat Group) was .
born. Initially, it would seem that the Fasci were destined for .
failure with none of their candidates (including Mussolini) winning a .
single seat in the 1919 elections. How was it that a party with no .
clear programme, save a belief in action of some sort, became a ruling .
dictatorship little more than ten years later? By the end of 1919, .
Mussolini possessed hardly more than 2% of the vote in Milan, less .
than 5000 votes against 170,000 for the Socialists. Was this a .
complete disaster? At the time it seemed so; the Socialists were so .
confident of their success that they staged a mock funeral in Milan .
stopping outside Mussolini's house to invite him to attend the burial .
of his party. Incredibly, by 1921 the membership of this previously .
tiny group was to rival the size of the Socialists. How was this.
achieved? It was certainly by no easy means; Mussolini's skill and .
luck played a vital role, but he was also helped by the seemingly .
blind incompetence of his opponents. Mussolini's path towards the top .
of Italian Government was hindered by many forms of opposition. .
However, most of his opposition came from the Government and the rival .
Socialist (PSI) party. Soon after the summer of 1920 the Fascists and .
their opposition inevitably clashed. The fact that Gioletti's .
government was faced with - million workers sitting in in factories .
showed that Italy was a far from stable country in 1920. Did an .
opportunity present itself for Mussolini to gain ground over the .
Socialist opposition? If it did, Mussolini certainly did not take it. .
He was still recovering from his party's humiliating election defeat.