The opposition won at least 99 seats in the 167-seat legislature, National Electoral Council President Tibisay Lucena announced after midnight. The socialist party won 46 seats and the remaining races have not yet been decided.

The streets of the Venezuelan capital of Caracas broke out in shouts of joy and fireworks after the partial results were announced.

Within seconds of the results being announced, President Nicolas Maduro took to the airwaves to recognise the opposition's win, saying that despite an adverse result Venezuela's democracy and constitution had triumphed.

Former presidential candidate Henrique Capriles said on Twitter that ''with great humility, serenity and maturity we accept what the people decided."

The opposition victory dealt a serious blow to the socialist revolution started 17 years ago by the late Hugo Chavez, who until his death in 2013 had an almost-magical hold on the political aspirations of Venezuela's long-excluded masses.

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