Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi narrowly survived two confidence votes on Tuesday, avoiding the collapse of his government but prolonging Italy's political agony.
He said he would work to broaden his untenable razor-thin majority, a tall order when he seems at the weakest in his long political career and as investors are eyeing Italy with increasing concern. "This country doesn't need early elections," a tired-looking Mr. Berlusconi said after the voting, according to New York Times.
On the streets of Rome, anti-Berlusconi protesters torched cars and smashed shop windows, clashing with police in riot gear, who fired tear gas at the crowds. Dozens of officers were reported injured.
Large demonstrations also were reported in other parts of the country, including the cities of Palermo and Turin.
Inside the Chamber of Deputies, a scuffle between lawmakers broke out when one legislator, who had been expected to vote against Berlusconi, changed her mind and supported him instead.
When the final tally was announced, the prime minister's allies erupted in cheers, while his opponents sat stony faced or filed quickly out of the chamber, Los Angeles Times reports.
After a trip to Russia, Polish writer Maya Wolny concluded that the West did not even have a close idea of how things really were in the Russian Federation.