The Guardian

Venezuela election loosens Hugo Chávez’s grip on power
The Guardian

Opponents of Hugo Chávez made major gains yesterday in legislative elections that could weaken the president’s dominant power in Venezuela. The opposition overturned Chávez’s two-thirds majority in the national assembly, and claimed to have won most of the popular vote. If it were confirmed, the result would mark a milestone.

With most of the votes counted, the Democratic Unity coalition won at least 65 of 165 seats in the assembly – well short of a majority, but enough to inhibit Chávez’s ability to appoint judges and other officials and to push through laws.

The opposition claimed that it had won 52% of the popular vote but argued also that changes in electoral rules favouring rural areas, where Chávez is popular, meant that this support had failed to translate into proportional seats.

During the campaign, the former soldier said it was crucial to « demolish » the opposition and win at least 110 seats for the two-thirds majority required to continue to rubberstamp his decisions.