Clashes in Rome follow Italy austerity vote

Italy’s fragile government has lived to see another day – and the country is set for a further bout of austerity after the parliament passed the government’s latest plan.

The much-altered measures are aimed at putting the brakes on the debt crisis threatening the whole eurozone.

The vote in the lower house was effectively a vote of confidence in prime minister Silvio Berlusconi’s government.

It has survived, but the mixed package of tax hikes and spending cuts designed to balance the budget has exposed deep divisions in the ruling coalition.

There were deep divisions too in the streets of Rome, where anger over the final vote brought clashes between protesters and riot police.

Some demonstrators hurled smoke bombs as hundreds of people marched near the parliament.

“Resign” they shouted at the politicians. Earlier one former member of Berlusconi’s coalition who voted in favour of the measures was heckled as he appeared in the crowd.

The trouble illustrates the tension the austerity plan has brought. European institutions though will be watching to see whether the government has the stomach to implement the measures it has passed.

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