President Hugo Chavez's Unifies Socialist Party of Venezuela, PSUV, held onto the National Parliament but emerged badly bruised by a revitalized opposition that could threaten his 2012 presidential bid.
In its preliminary report early Monday, the National Electoral Council said the PSUV had won at least 90 of the 165 seats in the unicameral legislature. The opposition coalition won at least 59 seats and the center-left Country for All party won as least two seats. The remaining seats were too close to call, the council said.
While the government did not provide details about the popular vote, Ramon Aveledo, the executive secretary of the opposition coalition, said his faction had won 52 percent of the vote.
"They know it and we know it," he said.
A new electoral law passed by Chavez's allies helped create the scenario where the opposition could win the popular vote but still fail to control congress.
Aveledo said the new parliament would change that law. He also asked the current parliament not to abuse its power through the end of the year, when its term ends.
"Do not pretend that what happened today didn't happen," he said. "The Venezuelan people have spoken."
Chavez had called on his allies to hold onto the two-thirds majority that would allow him to deepen his socialist revolution and lay the groundwork for his presidential bid.
Monday's results capped a tense evening of waiting.
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