Chavez gets to rule by decree...
Who needs democracy???
His critics said the move turns the country into a near-dictatorship. It comes just two weeks before a new national assembly is sworn in with a larger opposition bloc that could have frustrated some of his plans to create a socialist state.
The firebrand leader had only asked his allies for the right to govern without referring to congress for a year. Instead, they handed him the powers for 18 months as proof of their "revolutionary commitment", said Cilia Flores, the national assembly president.
The official reason for the move was to allow Mr Chavez to deal with the devastating aftermath of weeks of floods by fast-tracking tax increases and funding for construction of new homes.
But amid a fresh wave of nationalisations of farms and businesses, he has already outlined a long list of new laws that extend far beyond relief and reconstruction.