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Venezuela's opposition wins two-thirds majority

Venezuela's electoral office has published the final results of Sunday's legislative polls. The opposition Democratic Unity coalition won a two-thirds majority, which could challenge President Maduro's grip on power.

The Democratic Unity alliance won 112 out of 167 seats in the legislature, according to the final results published by the National Electoral Office. President Nicolas Maduro's ruling socialist party won 55 seats. Earlier, the electoral authority had published

only partial results

.

The absolute majority of the opposition coalition meant the alliance could now form an assembly to rewrite Venezuela's constitution, introduced by former President Hugo Chavez in 1999. Opposition leaders will also be able to call a referendum and replace senior judges.

Hardliners against Maduro, who will now be a majority in the National Assembly, have said they prefer the president finishing his term before it officially ends in 2019. However, moderates say finances, rather than politics, should be prioritized - and the socialist leader should be given a chance to change his strategy and bring the economy back on track.

'Counterrevolution to blame'

Venezuela has the world's biggest oil reserves, which Maduro and his predecessor Chavez used to fund social welfare programs. However, plunging oil prices have wrecked the economy since Maduro took over as president in 2013.

His defeat was a result of economic crisis that led to people suffering a shortage of food and basic goods.

On Tuesday, Maduro criticized the results, blaming the "circumstantial" loss on a

"counterrevolution"

to destabilize his government and sabotage the country's economy. "The bad guys won, like the bad guys always do, through lies and fraud," he said during a visit to Chavez's tomb in the Montana military barracks, on the west side of the capital Caracas.

mg/jr (AP, AFP)

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