(Denis Mack Smith in 'Mussolini' - 1981)
Italian unification was in 1861, from this point up until Mussolini came into power in 1922 Italy was ruled by 'parliamentary liberals.'
Liberals had never solved the problems of the economically backward South, therefore they were resented there.
It can be suggested that the liberal regimes did little to raise the standard of living for the majority of Italians.
Mussolini was a 'renegade socialist' with a strong desire for power. His aims and doctrine were difficult to pin down. He was intolerant and embraced violence, therefore diametrically opposed liberalism.
Mussolini's Rise to Power
Mussolini's fascist regime (an extreme change for the nation from years of liberalism) took control without any substantial opposition.
There were many factions in Italian politics who absolutely opposed fascism but a 'united front' was never formed as the Communists, Socialists and the Catholics had too many unresolved differences with each other. They were too busy arguing amongst themselves to agree to fight fascism together, the one way they could defeat it.
D'Annunzio's regime in Fiume had openly defied the liberal government and had been well supported by military officers and sections of the ruling classes. Mussolini witnessed this popular appeal to nationalism with great interest.
Mussolini realised towards the end of 1920 that he had to make deals with certain parts of his opposition in order to succeed in parliament.
Mussolini embraced the political right (despite his left wing background) as he knew it would unite his own party whose strength would appeal to many in Italy who had completely lost faith in the weak liberal government.
Mussolini was an opportunist who gained the support of different parties with calculated concessions. For example, before the election of May 1921 he...