After he became prime minister, Mussolini needed to consolidate his power if he wished to make Italy the fascist state that he so desperately wanted it to become. This was also important as Mussolini felt that the democratic power of the prime minister was not enough to solve Italy’s problems quickly, and would be difficult in much the same way as previous governments had found it. He also wanted to remove any opposition from blocking him.
Mussolini only had 34 deputies in Parliament and few allies. In July 1923, Mussolini passed the Acerbo law, designed to rectify this. The whole point of this law was to change to the electoral system in Italy from proportional to a system which would allow Mussolini to gain a clear majority.
What the law meant was that rather than needing 50% or more of the vote for a majority in parliament, if any party got over 25% of the vote, and the most of any party, then they would be awarded two thirds of the seats in parliament. With hindsight this seems laced with a clear intent for autocratic rule, but it was nevertheless voted in by Parliament.
There are two main reasons for why this was allowed to happen. The first is that Mussolini’s scare-mongering worked people up so much that they believed that authoritative action was needed to sort out the country, and the Acerbo law offered a way for this to happen. As well as this, during the vote itself, there was a large amount of intimidation by fascist black shirts. Ultimately, the deputies for the most part genuinely believed the vote was necessary, and so it had no difficulty in getting past. Once it was, Mussolini was granted the power to ‘legitimately’ do whatever he wanted.
Mussolini founded the Fascist grand council founded, which essentially controlled the institutions of government. It had the power to appoint party deputies, approve party statues, even decide the heir to the throne, as well as large variety of other prerogative powers.
Despite the events of 1924 seeing to put Mussolini in a position of secure power, illegal actions committed by Fascists during the election campaign led to something which threatened to topple him from power.