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Berlusconi vote success sparks clashes

12-15-2010 08:25 BJT

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Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi has narrowly survived a vote of confidence in the lower house of parliament, prompting street protests. Thousands of people gathered in Rome and Italy's other major cities to demand a change in the government.

Residents clashed with riot police on the streets of Rome.

Protesters threw flares at police, while others tossed oranges at the Economy Ministry.

They are rallying against Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi, who has run the gauntlet, and come out on top.

He narrowly survived a no-confidence vote in parliament Tuesday, winning in both the lower and upper house.

In the lower house, 314 votes won out over 311, barely ensuring his survival.

The outcome reinforces his reputation as a great survivor of Italian politics, but it has left him badly weakened.

And despite the victory, the future of Berlusconi's center-right government remains uncertain because his wafer-thin majority will make it difficult for him to pass legislation.

Rivals are not pleased -- but they know he will have to make concessions if he wants allies.

But after a year overshadowed by corruption and sex scandals, the result offers at least a temporary lifeline to the 74-year-old premier.

ROME, ITALY - DECEMBER 14: Clashes between police and demonstrators during a protest
called by university students against the vote of confidence of Silvio Berlusconi's
government on December 14, 2010 in Rome, Italy. Italian Prime Minister Silvio
Berlusconi scraped through a crucial confidence vote in the lower house of parliament
by 314 votes in favour and 311 against. (Photo by Giorgio Cosulich/Getty Images)

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