The rivalry between Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi and the speaker of the lower house exploded in a public row, when the prime minister asked Gianfranco Fini to resign, while the latter called on him to allow more debate within the party.
"Political statements aren't supposed to come from people who head non-partisan institutions," Berlusconi said to Fini Thursday at a People of Liberty party meeting in Rome.
Fini, who was sitting in the front row, was caught by television cameras saying, "What are you going to do, sack me?"
When Berlusconi took the podium, Fini stood up and interrupted his speech while shaking his finger at the premier.
"I have no intention of resigning as president of the lower house, let alone leaving the party," Fini said.
Fini had merged his National Alliance party with the premier's Forza Italia in 2008.
"I do not want to create a movement to win more power, I want only to express my other ideas, I am asking for a chance to talk about it," Fini said.
"I don't want to engage in controversy, I am not looking for power, but there is a risk that we are passing from democratic centralism to charismatic centralism," he said.