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December 14, 2010
Protesters Rampage as Berlusconi Faces Parliamentary Showdown
ROME (AP) -- Silvio Berlusconi pulled off another astonishing escape from the political dead, scraping through two confidence votes Tuesday in a dramatic parliamentary showdown. But the Italian leader's hold on power remains precarious as his razor-thin victory makes political gridlock a near certainty -- and violent street protests show growing unease with his rule. Masked protesters torched cars and trash bins, smashed shop windows and clashed with police. Clouds of white tear gas and orange flares engulfed streets, as shops full of Christmas goods hurriedly closed down. Employees at one bank cowered in fear as a group of stone-throwing youths swept by. Protesters rampaged in the the area around parliament and Berlusconi's residence, which had been cordoned off by heavy police presence. By sundown, almost 100 people, both protesters and police, were reported injured, including about two dozen hospitalized. About 40 were reportedly taken into police custody. The chaos followed speculation in recent weeks that the end of the Berlusconi era was near.(37 images)

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A youth burns a flare near the Colosseum during a protest to demand a change of government as parliament met to hold a crucial vote that could topple Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi on December 14, 2010 in Rome. AFP/ Getty Images / Alberto Pizzoli


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Demonstrators holding a banner reading "No confidence" march during a protest to demand a change of government on December 14, 2010 in Rome. AFP/ Getty Images / Filippo Monteforte



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Police block the access to the center of Rome, Tuesday, Dec. 14, 2010, where thousands of demonstrators smashed shop windows, destroyed bank ATMs and set at least three vehicles on fire. AP / Riccardo De Luca



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Demonstrators take cover as they face Police in Rome, Tuesday, Dec. 14, 2010. Premier Silvio Berlusconi won back-to-back votes of confidence in the Italian parliament Tuesday, but he was left with a razor-thin majority that will make it hard for him to govern effectively. AP / Pier Paolo Cito



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Demonstrators, background, clash with police in Rome's Piazza del Popolo Square on Tuesday, Dec. 14, 2010. AP / Alessandra Tarantino



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Demonstrators, background, clash with police in Rome's Piazza del Popolo Square on Tuesday, Dec. 14, 2010. AP / Alessandra Tarantino



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Demonstrators burn trash bins in Rome, Tuesday, Dec. 14, 2010. Thousands of demonstrators smashed shop windows, destroyed bank ATMs and set at least three vehicles on fire. AP / Andrew Medichini



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Demonstrators clash with police in Rome, Tuesday, Dec. 14, 2010. Thousands of demonstrators smashed shop windows, destroyed bank ATMs and set at least three vehicles on fire. AP / Riccardo De Luca



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A customs police officer gets out of a van as a flare is thrown inside it during clashes between protesters and police, in Rome, Tuesday, Dec. 14, 2010. AP / Andrew Medichini



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A demonstrator hurls a bottle past a burning car during clashes in Rome, Tuesday, Dec. 14, 2010. AP / Pier Paolo Cito



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Demonstrators, background, clash with police in Rome's Piazza del Popolo Square on Tuesday, Dec. 14, 2010. AP / Alessandra Tarantino



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A police van and cars burn at Piazza del Popolo during a protest of youths to demanding a change of government as parliament meets to hold a crucial vote that could topple Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi on December 14, 2010 in Rome. AFP/ Getty Images / Vincenzo Pinto



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Firemen extinguish a car set on fire at Piazza del Popolo after clashes with youths during a protest to demand a change of government as parliament meets on December 14, 2010 in Rome. AFP/ Getty Images / Filippo Monteforte



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Demonstrators clash with police in Rome, Tuesday, Dec. 14, 2010. Outside parliament, thousands of students, some of them downing beers as they marched, smashed shop windows, destroyed bank ATMs and set at least three vehicles on fire. At one point they even entered a bank, prompting staffers to try to barricade themselves inside. Police fired tear gas as the protesters neared Berlusconi's residence. AP / Gregorio Borgia



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Protesters throw objects at police during clashes in Rome, Tuesday, Dec. 14, 2010. AP / Andrew Medichini



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Policemen struggle amid unidentified people during a demonstration in Rome, Tuesday, Dec. 14, 2010. AP / Andrew Medichini



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Protesters attack a police officer, kneeling on the ground at center holding a gun, as his colleagues try to defend themselves during clashes in Rome, Tuesday, Dec. 14, 2010. AP / Andrew Medichini



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A policeman (on ground) is being surrounded and hit by demonstrators during a protest of youths to demand a change of government on December 14, 2010. AFP/ Getty Images / Alberto Pizzoli



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A policeman (C-on ground) holds his gun as he is surrounded and hit by demonstrators during a protest of youths to demand a change of government on December 14, 2010 in Via del Corso in Rome. AFP/ Getty Images / Alberto Pizzoli



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Demonstrators clash with police in Rome, Tuesday, Dec. 14, 2010. AP / Riccardo De Luca



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Youths face policemen during a protest to demand a change of government on December 14, 2010 in Via del Corso in Rome. AFP/ Getty Images / Alberto Pizzoli



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Demonstrators clash with police in Rome, Tuesday, Dec. 14, 2010. AP / Riccardo De Luca



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Demonstrators clash with police in Rome, Tuesday, Dec. 14, 2010. AP / Gregorio Borgia



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Demonstrators clash with police in Rome, Tuesday, Dec. 14, 2010. AP / Gregorio Borgia



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Demonstrators run away from tear gas during scuffles with police in Rome, Tuesday, Dec. 14, 2010. AP / Pier Paolo Cito



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A police officer fires tear gas during clashes in Rome, Tuesday, Dec. 14, 2010. AP / Pier Paolo Cito



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Youths face policemen during a protest to demand a change of government on December 14, 2010 in Rome. AFP/ Getty Images / Filippo Monteforte



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Youths fight with policemen during a demonstration to demand a change of government on December 14, 2010 in Rome. AFP/ Getty Images / Filippo Monteforte



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Policemen walk at Piazza del Popolo after clashes with youths during a protest to demand a change of government on December 14, 2010 in Rome. AFP/ Getty Images / Filippo Monteforte



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Police officers drag demonstrators following clashes in Rome, Tuesday, Dec. 14, 2010. AP / Pier Paolo Cito



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Protestors are dragged away by police during clashes in Rome, Tuesday, Dec. 14, 2010. AP / Andrew Medichini



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A protester is dragged away by police during clashes in Rome, Tuesday, Dec. 14, 2010. AP / Andrew Medichini



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A police officer subdues a demonstrator in Rome, Tuesday, Dec. 14, 2010. AP / Andrew Medichini



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Police officers drag a demonstrator following clashes in Rome, Tuesday, Dec. 14, 2010. AP / Gregorio Borgia



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An injured demonstrator, center, receives assistance after scuffles in Rome, Tuesday, Dec. 14, 2010. AP / Pier Paolo Cito



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Demonstrators are seen through a bus smashed window during clashes in Rome, Tuesday, Dec. 14, 2010. AP / Pier Paolo Cito



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Smoke billows next to the twin churches of Santa Maria in Monesanto, left, and Santa Maria dei Miracoli, in Piazza del Popolo Square, during clashes between protesters and police, in Rome, Tuesday, Dec. 14, 2010. AP / Andrew Medichini



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