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27 Sep, 2010 23:40

Venezuelan election: Opposition gains seats, Chavez holds majority

After months of intense campaigning and PR maneuvers from both sides, Venezuelans all over the country hit the polls to vote for their National Assembly.

One the eve of the election, rumors from the opposition began to circulate in the media that voting machines did not work at numerous polling stations.

RT asked Enrico, an opposition supporter if he encounceterd any problems at his polling station. He said, “No, no problems at all." Another woman RT spoke to confirmed; “No, nothing, no problem,s a very easy process."

The opposition displayed a great deal of confidence, one voter even made a prediction.

"Probably the government will get 80 – 90 seats in the Congress and the opposition will get 60 – 70," said Enrico.

However, Zulmn Galindez, a Chavez supporter believed the opposition's speculation did not represent how the people of Venezuela felt.

"What the opposition claimed all along is the media message that they hold the majority. On the contrary, throughout the past 11 years, the revolutionary process has won every election and this too is going to be a victory for us," he said.

Towards the inner city, the crowds display more support for the government.

Manuel, a Chavista, said, "At my polling station, you could hear people saying vote up to the left, RED, the governments party." He then pulled at his red shirt and said, "Go Red, viva Chavez!"

Fatima Hernandez, an opposition supporter said, "There are lots of expectations, let's hope the results are what we expect."

As the polling stations closed down, the spot light turned to the National Electoral Council, where the final results would be announced. However, what started out as an exciting evening, with celebrations prepared all over the city, quickly turned into a waiting game.

As international observers and the media waited patiently, the speculation began to flare that the Chavistas did not receive the two-thirds majority they previously held.

Finally the results were in.

Tibisay Lucena, the President of the National Electoral Council addressed journalists and the country at 2 AM, Caracas local time. "At this hour, the CNE responsibly announces to the country the results from this election."

With 65 percent of the population voting and with 35 percent voting in abstention, the government parties won 91 seats and the opposition won 64 seats, a major victory for the opposition.

The breakdown in numbers means Chavez will not enjoy the quick passage of laws and projects he once did with PSUV, the United Socialist Party, which had held nearly 98 percent of the parliamentary seats.

The opposition suggested this election was a prelude to the upcoming presidential poll in two years.

They insist candidates like Maria Corina Machado, who became the face of the opposition, will have the opportunity of running with the likelihood of actually off-setting the Chavis model, a model which has been the governing structure in Venezuela.

Although there have been a number of issues that plague Venezuela, from numerous power outrages, to a recovering economy and the polarized wealth divides in the city, some would argue the results aren't that surprising.

Critics who have been following the hundreds of thousands of US dollars that have been pouring into this country for 'democracy promotion' programs within the opposition suggest there is much more to the outcome of this election.

In the past, anti-Chavez NGOs and opposition candidates did receive large amounts of aid from US government agencies, the question is did it factor into how the people voted and how the opposition was victorious in this election.