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A split between its co-founders has ripped apart Italy's governing People of Freedom Party.
Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi has asked his former colleague to step down as Speaker of the Lower House on Friday, but Gianfranco Fini insists he will not resign.
Friend or Foe? Old allies can sometimes become the greatest of enemies.
This seems to be the case with the two founders of Italy's governing People of Freedom Party.
On Friday, Lower House Speaker Gianfranco Fini announced the creation of a new political group, called Future and Freedom for Italy, which will boast 34 Parliamentarians in the 630-seat Lower House, and 10 in the 315-member Senate.
He says that on July 29th, with no possibility given to express himself, he was de facto expelled from the party he helped found.
Berlusconi urged Fini to step down from his office on Friday, saying he no longer represents the majority of citizens who elected him.
Silvio Berlusconi, Italian Prime Minister, said, "This party regards the honorable Gianfranco Fini as incompatible with the inspiring principles of the Freedom Party, with the commitments taken on with the electorate, and with the political activities of the Freedom Party. Because of this, the Freedom Party no longer supports his position as Speaker of the Lower House of Parliament, a position that is in line with the majority party which won the elections."
But Fini stresses that he has been appointed by the House not by Berlusconi.
Gianfranco Fini, Italian Lower House Speaker, said, "Obviously I'm not going to resign, because it's clear to everyone that the Speaker of the House has to guarantee the impartiality of the working practices of the House, not to guarantee the majority that elected him."
The rift between Berlusconi and Fini follows months of tensions within the governing party, partly due to antagonism between the two leaders, and differing stances on several crucial and delicate issues, including immigration and justice.
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