Benito Mussolini has dominated Italy for years; hence his influence can hardly be underestimated. Following the First World War he and his Fascist party took the reins and ruled the country for more than 20 years. Mussolini transformed Italy into a dictatorship with totalitarian characteristics. In this way he attempted to let Italy play a prominent role in Europe and the world.
Great Britain and France were not keen on this however. Germany, where Hitler had seized power, did consider Italy a welcome ally though. Mussolini was not happy with this course of things at first but in the end, he considered an alliance with Germany the best way to achieve his ambitions. That however would lead to his downfall.