Salandra, Antonio


Salandra, Antonio
(1853–1931)
   Born in the province of Foggia in August 1853, Salandra, a conservative nationalist politician, is chiefly famous for having led Italy into World War I. As prime minister from March 1914 to June 1916, he negotiated the Treaty of London (April 1915), under the terms of which Italy would join the war on the side of Britain and France. These arrangements were not revealed to Parliament, whose members might well have opposed them, and their negotiation required Salandra, and his foreign minister Sidney Sonnino, to play a careful double game. With a logic not unlike Benito Mussolini’s in 1940, Salandra reckoned that the time had come for Italy to choose (what seemed at the time) the winning side. His subsequent reference to sacro egoismowas as ill-timed as it was candid.
   Salandra’s decision backfired, however. The Austrian army’s successful Strafexpedition, a spring 1916 attack in the Trentino that exposed the Italian army on the Isonzo front near Trieste to the risk of being cut off and forced to surrender, brought Salandra down. Neutralist supporters of Giovanni Giolitti, who had never forgiven Salandra for his double dealing in 1915, joined forces with Salandra’s critics in the prowar camp to bring down the “government of discord.” Salandra was replaced by Paolo Boselli. It was only after the war that Salandra again became a candidate for premier. Fascist street violence had forced Luigi Facta to recognize his impotence and resign in October 1922. Salandra hoped to head a government including the Fascists. Nationalist leaders recommended that Mussolini accept such an arrangement, but the Fascist leader held out for nothing less than forming his own government. Only after the publication of documents connecting Mussolini directly with the murder of Giacomo Matteotti did Salandra join the opposition, which by then was totally ineffective. Salandra died in Rome in December 1931.
   See also March on Rome.

Historical Dictionary of Modern Italy. . 2007.

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