Supporters of President Hugo Chavez have celebrated their party’s majority in Venezuela’s parliamentary elections.
But their happiness soon turned to disappointment when it became clear they are well short of the two-thirds needed in the 165-seat National Assembly to push through key reforms.
With votes still being counted, though, Chavez is said to be close to the three-fifths of seats needed to give him special powers to bypass parliament.
The newly-united opposition Democratic Unity umbrella group claims to have won 52 percent of the popular vote.
Their focus will now be on toppling Chavez himself at the ballot box in 2012.
Observers say voters have been hurt by issues like violent crime and a deep recession.