The appointment of Mussolini and Hitler as heads of coalition governments in 1922 and 1933 respectively constituted a decisive development in the process of fusion in the Italian and German Right. In the previous chapter, we examined how such an osmosis took place on the ideological level, allowing fascism to emerge as an effective synthesis of traditional aspirations and a new sense of radicalism and activism. This process led to a gradual convergence between old and new Right upon a set of short-term goals for both domestic and foreign policy. In Italy, this had been manifested in the rallying dynamism of the intervento movement of 1914-15, but was strengthened through the inclusion of Fascists in the electoral lists of 1921. In Germany, the campaign against the Young Plan in 1929 produced a coalition between the industrialist and press magnate Alfred Hugenberg and Hitler which appeared to originate from agreement on a single issue (reparations' revisionism) but initiated a debate about the political role of Hitler and the NSDAP in the German Right. Although the implications of these developments did not become immediately apparent, a process of political fusion was set in motion which gradually legitimised Nazism as an alternative solution to the political crisis. 1 In this respect, the endorsement of the 'fascist solution' in 1922 and 1933 by the elite groups in the two societies, albeit neither predetermined nor inevitable, 2 was the conclusion of a calculated political rationale. The aim was to transform the political representation of the Right by harnessing the powerful appeal of fascism and injecting its dynamism into the existing institutional framework of the state.
This decision, however, instigated a new phase in the process of fusion, which this time involved the balance between traditional ruling groups and the fascist elites in the decision-making process. Agreement on a common agenda of short-term goals meant that the utilisation of Mussolini and Hitler was intended to remain confined within the framework of a 'caesarist' regime, in which the autonomy of the traditional groups would be enhanced and legitimised by the charisma of the two fascist leaders. Institutional rearrangements were not ruled out, but the emphatic separation of the two leaders from their more 'extreme' parties was aimed to reduce the ability of the former to intervene in the institutional debate with radical proposals and initiatives. 3 Such a calculation did