Leftists Win Big in Venezuela Vote

From Times Wire Services

President Hugo Chavez's leftist coalition won an overwhelming majority of a constitutional assembly in nationwide elections Sunday, giving the former coup leader vast new power to carry out his "social revolution."

With Chavez urging the constitutional assembly to abolish both Congress and the Supreme Court, opposition leaders feared the vote was a prelude to dictatorship.

With 78% of the vote counted, Chavez's Patriotic Pole coalition had secured 119 of the 128 assembly seats up for grabs, according to official results. The two biggest vote-getters were Chavez's wife, Marisabel, and his former chief of staff, Alfredo Pena.

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