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Crowd rallies against Berlusconi

A huge crowd gathered in Rome to rally against the Italian premier Silvio Berlusconi as confidence votes on the conservative government loom in Parliament.

Pier Luigi Bersani, a leader of Italy's centre-left opposition, the Democratic Party, drew cheers as he addressed the crowd in St John's Lateran Square, packed with 100,000 supporters who'd marched for hours through the city.

Mr Bersani is demanding that Mr Berlusconi leave power.

The media mogul's government has been weakened by the defection of allies, but Mr Berlusconi boasts he will win the confidence votes on Tuesday. If not, he will have to resign.

Rome magistrates are investigating allegations by another opposition leader that Mr Berlusconi and his allies have been "buying" the votes of wavering legislators. Mr Berlusconi's camp denies the claims.

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