December 15, 2010
At least 100 people were injured in clashes between Italian police and demonstrators who exploded firecrackers and attempted to storm parliament buildings, Italian media reported. The protests targeted cuts by the government to the education budget. Shop windows were smashed and several police
vehicles were set alight in the riots which took place in the centre of Rome.
The injured included 22 protesters who were brought to hospital. The injured included 57 police officers.
The violence erupted as parliament’s two houses – the upper house Senate and the lower house Chamber of Deputies – were in session for key votes on the future of Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi’s centre-right government.
The government eventually won both confidence motions, albeit by a margin of only three votes in Chamber of Deputies.
Defeat in either would have forced Berlusconi to resign.
Student representatives had obtained permission to stage a peaceful march down the capital’s streets, but small groups broke away from the main demonstration and attempted to enter an area cordoned off by police, the reports said late Tuesday.
In late November, students stormed several of Italy’s famous landmarks, including the Colosseum and the Leaning Tower of Pisa and last week protesters clashed with police in front of Milan’s La Scala opera house.
The reforms include cutting funds to faculties and courses which the government says attract only a few students and drain resources from other more vital areas of study.
Critics of the reforms, including the centre-left opposition, say they will make less funds available for research projects and other investments universities have to make to guarantee high standards of education.