Romans riot as Berlusconi pulls off narrow win

Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi clung to front-line politics by the skin of his teeth yesterday after defeating a vote of no confidence by just three votes.

Romans took to the streets in protest as some of the most serious rioting the city has seen in years broke out. Dozens were injured as protestors threw smoke bombs and firecrackers and fought baton-wielding police in running street battles in the historic city centre.

The result underlined Berlusconi’s reputation as one of the great survivors of Italian politics, but left him unable to ensure the stability of the government at a time of major economic problems and a menacing Eurozone debt crisis.

The no-confidence motion, brought by the centre-left opposition, was defeated by 314 votes to 311, and vote counting in the chamber was briefly interrupted by a scuffle between deputies from rival camps.

The result was secured after a fevered campaign of back room deals.