Italy Under Prime Minister Giolittian Age (1900-1914)

1911: Italy declares war on Turkey to take possession of Tripolitania and Cyrenaica (later renamed Libya.) Military operations are also extended to the Aegean Sea where Italy occupies Rhodes Island and the Dodecanese archipelago. The First Treaty of Lausanne (1912) recognizes Italian sovereignty over Libya and the Dodecanese Islands.

1900-1914: Giovanni Giolitti’s personality dominates Italian politics from the beginning of the twentieth century until March of 1914. Giolitti consolidates the liberal functioning of the State. He recognizes the right to form unions as well as the right to strike. Giolitti introduces important reforms at a social level, such as mandatory insurance for work injuries; sets to 12 the maximum numbers of hours to work daily; the minimum age to start working is increased to 12; the nationalization of the telephone (1903) and railways (1905); the municipalization of transportation, the distribution of gas, water and electricity; the State institution of life insurance (1912). The State also pays the cost for mandatory elementary education in 1911.

1912: Giolitti obtains the approval for male universal suffrage, which raises the number of voters to more than 8 million (25.5% of population). Universal suffrage mainly benefits socialists and Catholics. The election results of 1913 prevent the creation of fluid majorities, a trait of Giolitti’s style in exercising political power till then. He is forced to resign.
1896-1913: Economy and society during Giolitti's time as PM

The years of the Italy’s industrial development, mostly in the Northern triangle of Milan, Turin and Genoa. The Questione Meridionale worsens and emigration in 1910 reaches an historical record. Strikes increase, especially in the Pianura Padana. Those of 1904, 1907 and the ‘settimana rossa’ (June 7-14) are most famous. The ideological difference becomes more radical: the maximalist socialists on one side, and nationalists, promoters of a strong State, on the other. The bourgeoisie depicts Giolitti in the daily Corriere della Sera as being irresolute and accuses him of lacking great projects and ideals.

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