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Chavez Opposition Gains in Parliament


People line up outside a polling station during congressional elections in Caracas, Venezuela, Sunday, Sept. 26, 2010.

People line up outside a polling station during congressional elections in Caracas, Venezuela, Sunday, Sept. 26, 2010.

President's party still holds majority in Venezuelan National Assembly

Venezuelan election officials say President Hugo Chavez's ruling Socialist Party has won the majority of seats in Sunday's parliamentary election, but has fallen short of the two-thirds majority needed to pass major legislation.

Officials from the National Electoral Council said Monday that Mr. Chavez's party won at least 90 of the 165 seats, while the opposition coalition received at least 59 of the seats.

Officials say the remaining seats went to a third party or were not yet determined.

Opposition groups boycotted the last general elections five years ago, and held only a handful of seats in the outgoing National Assembly. This time the opposition campaigned actively, and succeeded in capturing slightly more than one-third of the seats - enough to block major legislation advancing Mr. Chavez's socialist program.

The president was not on the ballot, but the vote is seen as a referendum on Mr. Chavez himself, ahead of the next presidential election in 2012.

Mr. Chavez campaigned heavily for Socialist Party candidates throughout Venezuela. In the coming months, he is expected to introduce legislation to allow his government to nationalize small- and medium-sized businesses.

Some information for this report provided by AP, AFP and Reuters.

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