How did such a dip shit, so prone to making terrible decisions even gain power to begin with and why did anyone follow him when there must have been men better qualified even within his own party?
Mussolini's competence as a politician and as a generalissimo are entirely separate things, ironically enough for a leader who derived his credibility in part from a militaristic, aggressive image. There also seems to be an absence of competent opposition to the Fascists, plus the support, or at least indifference, of Establishment bodies such as the Church was a big help.
Also reds were growing hard as fuck in all of Europe in the inter-war period, in Germany and Italy included.
It wasn't a stroll in the park for neither Hitler nor Mussolini; not initially.
>an absence of competent opposition to the Fascists
you know people were killed and incarcerated or exiled? you know the fate of Gramsci?
You know that during the rise to power, right after the Biennio Rosso (Two Red Years) there were hundreds of people killed by fascist squadracce?
Simple answer? Because he was alpha as fuck.
Italy had just been through one of the worst periods in its history and Risorgimento had been disappointing in general. Then Mussolini came along and convinced everyone to stop dragging their dicks and regain their place as one of the great European nations. Italy was suffering from a national case of low self-esteem, the perfect environment for a bombastic, cocksure tough guy like Mussolini to thrive.
I don't think a lot of people know that the first time the fascist party tried to compete in the Italian elections it performed very poorly.
He rose to power when capitalists started to use the Camicie nere to beat the insurgent communists. This granted him the esteem of the clergy and of the high nobility, King included