Polling stations remained open for several extra hours in the Venezuelan legislative elections but have now closed and the count is underway.
The decision was made to allow all those queuing to vote time to do so. Some 17 million people are on the electoral lists, and turnout appears to have been heavy.
The opposition has high hopes of a good result, as unlike in 2005 when they boycotted the election all the parties have united and have campaigned hard. 165 seats are up for grabs, and the opposition want to win at least a third of them. This would prevent President Hugo Chavez’s government from enacting widescale reforms, and block the nominations of key positions.
Opinon polls suggest Chavez’s Socialists hold a slender lead, and government sources say they could hang onto 110 seats, which would allow Chavez to continue with his transformation of Venezulean politics. The next presidential election is in 2012.