Venezuelan opposition takes reins of National Assembly

People walk past the National Assembly building in Caracas,Venezuela, last month.

Story highlights

  • Venezuelan lawmakers are sworn in
  • The former opposition now has the majority in the National Assembly

(CNN)In the midst of tight security and political unrest, newly elected lawmakers took office in Venezuela's National Assembly.

Tuesday's swearing-in ceremony represents the South American country's first major political shift since the late President Hugo Chavez was elected more than 17 years ago.
Last month, the Democratic Unity Roundtable, a coalition formed by opposition parties, swept the midterm elections by winning 112 of the 167 seats up for grabs.
    The ruling United Socialist Party, led by President Nicolas Maduro, won only 55 seats.
    As the ceremony took place, opposition and government supporters clashed both inside and outside the legislative palace.
    Leaders from the Democratic Unity Roundtable coalition were angered by a Supreme Court decision after three elected lawmakers weren't sworn in due to legal challenges of their victories. The exclusion of these three prevented the former opposition from having a supermajority in the National Assembly, which would have allowed it to call for a referendum or change the constitution, among other things.
    Politicians from the ruling socialist party protested the election of Henry Ramos Allup as the president of the National Assembly and accused him of being a neoliberal crony who doesn't care about the country's poor.
    Maduro called on "all political sectors" to help the National Assembly take office "in peace."
    For years, Venezuela has been afflicted by deep political polarization that has led to violent protests, resulting in injuries and even deaths. The situation has worsened as the country faces one of its worst recessions in history and a surge in insecurity.
    Maduro is expected to present a new financial plan for the country during his State of the Union address this weekend.