At least 40 injured and Rome left billowing in smoke after anti-austerity protesters clash with riot police in front of Parliament for over two hours tonight.
After weeks of dithering on the precipice of his own downfall, Silvio Berlusconi tonight survived a crucial vote of confidence, by one of the narrowest possible margins, allowing his government it to push through its proposed package of deeply unpopular austerity measures.
The cutbacks and tax hikes had been demanded by the European Central Bank in exchange for its buy-up of Italian bonds on secondary markets, after markets turned their sights on Italy last month, pushing the government’s borrowing costs close to the level where Greece had previously required an EU bailout.
But as Parliament prepared to vote on the austerity measures, violent clashes broke out between protesters and riot police. Downtown Rome was left billowing in smoke and littered with debris as at least 40 protesters were injured by random rounds of police baton charges.