ROME (AFP) - Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi on Tuesday survived a crucial no-confidence vote in parliament by three votes, as violent clashes broke out in the streets of Rome in protest against his rule. Berlusconi won with a razor-thin majority, with 314 lawmakers voting in his favour, 311 against and two abstentions in the 630-seat lower house. His government earlier won a comfortable majority in a confidence vote in the Senate. Berlusconi said after the twin vote that he was now in a much stronger position. But parliament speaker Gianfranco Fini, whose defection from the coalition led to the no-confidence vote, said Berlusconi had won a numerical victory. It remains to be seen in the weeks to come whether Berlusconi can also say he won from the political point of view, said Fini, who conceded however that his Future and Freedom for Italy movement had suffered a painful defeat. Angry protesters banged on the metal blinds of shuttered shops in the centre of Rome as word spread that Berlusconi had won the vote. Some of the protesters set cars alight and hurled cobblestones at police in chaotic scenes in some of Romes most tourist-heavy streets. Im really very ashamed of being Italian. Today is the end of Italian democracy, Marianna Martellozzo, 24, a student, told AFP. Riot police fired tear gas and could be seen striking some of the protesters with truncheons in running street fights. AFP reporters on the scene saw some protesters led away by police and several with blood running down their faces. Around 40 protesters and at least three police officers were injured in the clashes, officials said. The clashes came after a peaceful march by several thousand anti-Berlusconi protesters through the centre of Rome. The vote was seen as one of the most serious challenges to Berlusconi in his 16-year political career but the razor-thin majority leaves his government vulnerable and could mean fresh elections before his mandate runs out in 2013. This means the government no longer has a solid majority, Giacomo Marramao, a professor of political philosophy in Rome, told AFP. If Berlusconi wants to continue to govern in this context, its very risky because he could be in a minority at any moment, he said. There were also heated debates and chaotic scenes in the Italian parliament, where supporters and opponents of Berlusconi could be seen shoving each other shortly before the result of the vote was announced. Pier Luigi Bersani, leader of the main leftist Democratic Party opposition party, said after the vote: Whether you have one vote more or one vote less, you are not in a position to guarantee the stability of the government. He added: This is a country that is tired and wants change. Berlusconi, 74, first launched himself onto a corruption-ridden political scene in the early 1990s. He won elections in 1994, 2001 and 2008, brushing off a series of sex and graft scandals along the way. The no-confidence vote followed a bitter split within the ruling coalition after Fini, who has remained loyal to Berlusconi throughout the Italian leaders 16-year career, broke away along with around 40 lawmakers. Berlusconi argued that a vote against him would be damaging for Italy given the current turbulence on eurozone financial markets. Italy has the highest level of public debt in the eurozone, forecast at 118.5 percent of gross domestic product (GDP) for this year. The reaction on the markets was relatively positive, with the benchmark FTSE Mib index rising 0.24 percent immediately after the result of the vote was announced. It had been up just 0.09 percent ahead of the vote. The yield on 10-year Italian government bonds was stable at 4.610 percent after the vote compared to 4.612 percent before the vote. With a reduced majority the risk is that at the first serious test the government could fall, said Chiara Corsa, an analyst with UniCredit bank. Citi Group analyst Giada Giani said: Despite the result of todays vote, we reckon political instability will remain high in Italy in coming months as the government does not benefit any more from a clear majority in the Lower House.