Italian general election, 1895

Italian general election, 1895

26 May–2 June 1895

All 508 seats to the Chamber of Deputies of the Kingdom of Italy

  Majority party Minority party Third party
Leader Francesco Crispi Antonio Starabba di Rudinì Felice Cavallotti
Party Historical Left Historical Right Historical Far Left
Seats won 334 104 47
Seat change 11 11 20
Popular vote 713,812 263,315 142,356
Percentage 58.6% 21.6% 11.7%
Swing 5.0% 3.3% 6.3%

Prime Minister before election

Giovanni Giolitti
Historical Left

Elected Prime Minister

Francesco Crispi
Historical Left

General elections were held in Italy on 26 May 1895, with a second round of voting on 2 June.[1] The "ministerial" left-wing bloc remained the largest in Parliament, winning 334 of the 508 seats.[2]

Historical background

In December 1893 the impotence of the Giovanni Giolitti cabinet to restore public order, menaced by disturbances in Sicily and the Banca Romana scandal, gave rise to a general demand that Francesco Crispi should return to power. Although Giolitti tried to put a halt to the manifestations and protests of the Fasci Siciliani, his measures were relatively mild. In the three weeks of uncertainty before Crispi formed a government on December 15, 1893, the rapid spread of violence drove many local authorities to defy Giolitti’s ban on the use of firearms. In December 1893, 92 peasants lost their lives in clashes with the police and army. Government building were burned as well as flour mills and bakeries that refused to lower their prices when taxes were lowered or abolished.[3][4]

On January 3, 1894, Crispi declared a state of siege throughout Sicily. Army reservists were recalled and General Roberto Morra di Lavriano was dispatched with 40,000 troops.[5][6] The old order was restored through the use of extreme force, including summary executions. A solidarity revolt of anarchists and republicans in the Lunigiana was crushed as well.

The repression of the Fasci turned into outright persecution. The government arrested not just the leaders of the movement, but masses of poor farmers, students, professionals, sympathizers of the Fasci, and even those simply suspected of having sympathized with the movement at some point in time, in many cases without any evidence for the accusations. After the declaration of the state of emergency, condemnations were issued for the paltriest of reasons. Many rioters were incarcerated for having shouted things such as "Viva l'anarchia" or "down with the King". At Palermo, in April and May 1894, the trials against the central committee of the Fasci took place and this was the final blow that signaled the death knell of the movement of the Fasci Siciliani.[7]

On June 16, 1894, the anarchist Paolo Lega tried to shoot Crispi but the attempt failed.[8] On June 24 an Italian anarchist killed French President Carnot. In this climate of increased the fear of anarchism, Crispi was able to introduce a series of anti-anarchist laws in July 1894, which were also used against socialists. Heavy penalties were announced for "incitement to class hatred" and police received extended powers of preventive arrest and deportation.[9]

Crispi steadily supported the energetic remedies adopted by his Minister of Finance Sidney Sonnino to save Italian credit, which had been severely shaken the financial crisis of 18921893 and the Banca Romana scandal. In 1894 he was threatened with expulsion from the Masonic Grande Oriente d'Italia for being too friendly towards the Catholic Church.[10] He had previously been strongly anticlerical but had become convinced of the need for rapprochement with the Papacy.[11]

Crispi’s uncompromising suppression of disorder, and his refusal to abandon either the Triple Alliance or the Eritrean colony, or to forsake his Minister of the Treasury, Sidney Sonnino, caused a breach with the radical leader Felice Cavallotti. Cavallotti began a pitiless campaign of defamation against him. The unsuccessful attempt upon Crispi’s life by the anarchist Lega brought a momentary truce, but Cavallotti’s attacks were soon renewed more fiercely than ever. They produced little effect and the general election of 1895 gave Crispi a huge majority. Nevertheless, the humiliating defeat of the Italian army at Adwa in March 1896 in Ethiopia during First Italo-Ethiopian War, brought about his resignation after riots broke out in several Italian towns.[12][13]

Parties and leaders

Party Ideology Leader
Historical Left Liberalism, Centrism Francesco Crispi
Historical Right Conservatism, Monarchism Antonio Starabba di Rudinì
Historical Far Left Radicalism, Republicanism Felice Cavallotti
Italian Socialist Party Socialism, Revolutionary socialism Andrea Costa


Summary of June 1895 Chamber of Deputies election results
Party Votes % Seats +/−
Historical Left713,81258.6334+11
Historical Right263,31521.6104+11
Historical Far Left142,35611.747+20
Italian Socialist Party82,5236.815New
Invalid/blank votes37,477
Registered voters/turnout2,120,18559.3
Source: Nohlen & Stöver
Popular vote
Far Left
Parliamentary seats
Far Left


  1. Dieter Nohlen & Philip Stöver (2010) Elections in Europe: A data handbook, p1047 ISBN 978-3-8329-5609-7
  2. Nohlen & Stöver, p1082
  3. Shot Down by the Soldiers; Four of the Mob Killed in an Anti-Tax Riot in Sicily, The New York Times, December 27, 1893
  4. Sicily Under Mob Control; A Series of Antitax Riots in The Island, The New York Times January 3, 1894
  5. The Italian Government Alarmed; More Troops Called Out for Service in Sicily, The New York Times, January 4, 1894
  6. Martial Law Proclaimed In Sicily; Stern Measures Resorted To to Quiet the Anti-Tax Troubles, The New York Times, January 5, 1894
  7. Sicilian Rioters Sentenced, The New York Times, May 31, 1894
  8. Premier Crispi's Escape; Two Shots Fired At Him In The Streets Of Rome, The New York Times, June 17, 1894
  9. Seton-Watson, Italy from liberalism to fascism, pp. 165-67
  10. Crispi to be Expelled by Freemasons, The New York Times, October 10, 1894
  11. "Crispi, a Freemason of deist convictions who had opposed the Law of Guarantees, had warned Bismarck and Léon Gambetta of the international danger of the Papacy in 1876, and had sacked Torlonia as late as 1887, gradually emerged as the leader of the effort to form an alliance with Catholics in defense of the established order." Secular Italy and Catholicism: 18481915, by John Rao, in Models and Images of Catholicism in Italian and Italian American Life Forum Italicum of the Center for Italian Studies at S.U.N.Y. Stony Brook, 2004, pp. 195-230 2004
  12. Vandervort, Wars of Imperial Conquest in Africa, 1830–1914, pp. 162-64
  13. Italy’s African Fiasco, The New York Times, July 5, 1896
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