Salandra was a political protégé of Baron Sidney Sonnino, leader of the traditional right in the Italian parliament at the end of the 19th and the beginning of the 20th centuries. Salandra served as Minister of Agriculture in the would-be dictatorship of General Luigi Pelloux, 1899-1900. Yet, by 1912, Salandra articulated a National Policy which distanced him somewhat from the traditional right and incorporated aspects of the neo-romantic new right, such as that of Enrico Corradini's Il regno group. Salandra now looked to utilizing an aggressive foreign policy and war in fusing the Italian people and eliminating internal divisions.
In March 1914, Salandra received his chance when the hegemonic parliamentary leader, Giovanni Giolitti, stepped down. By June Salandra had crushed Red Week insurrectionaries and rebels, and the outbreak of war in July and August afforded him the opportunity to pursue the military option. Initially, war was unthinkable for an unprepared Italy; but, with the death of his giolittian foreign minister, the Marchese Antonio San Giuliano, in October, followed by the resignations of his ministers of war and the treasury, Salandra - in conjunction with Sonnino - formed an interventionist new cabinet.
Under Sonnino's direction, Italy negotiated the Pact of London with the Entente governments, which traded Italy's entry in the war for territorial gains in Istria (but not Fiume), the Trentino, Dalmatia, and elsewhere, and for British financial assistance in prosecuting the war. The financial aspects of the agreement betray the expectation of all concerned that Italian intervention would bring the war to a speedy conclusion. As it was, in the wake of the collapse of the Russian war effort - beginning in May 1915 - the Italian intervention probably saved the Entente from defeat for some time.
Salandra's wartime government assumed a strong anti-parliament cast and exercised a rigorous censorship. Its failure to declare war upon Germany (as opposed to Austria-Hungary) also cost it support, and the government fell in June 1916 by thirty-nine votes. Salandra was succeeded by Paolo Boselli, who had served in a Sonnino cabinet in 1906 and who formed a broader government coalition than Salandra's.
The post-war years found Salandra a supporter of Mussolini's fascist regime until 1925, when he formally broke with the regime.
Antonio Salandra, La Neutralita Italiana, 1914 (Milan: 1928)
&ndsp;&ndsp;&ndsp;&ndsp;&ndsp;L'Intervento, 1915: Ricordi e Pensieri (Milan: 1930)
&ndsp;&ndsp;&ndsp;&ndsp;&ndsp;Memorie Politische, 1916-1925 (Milan: 1951)