A key ally of Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez was re-elected to head the National Assembly on Saturday as constitutional debate rage around the cancer-stricken commandante's inauguration.
Diosdado Cabello's retention was seen as a clear show of unity in the ruling socialist PSUV.
He reportedly heads a faction opposed to Vice-President Nicolas Maduro, put forward as the next national leader by Mr Chavez.
The two appeared together after the vote. Mr Cabello hugged Mr Maduro and said: "Come here, Nicolas. You're my brother, friend. They don't understand that."
He said government opponents were "terrified" of unity.
The constitution says that the presidential oath should be taken on January 10 before the National Assembly or, failing that, before the Supreme Court.
Some legal experts have pointed out the lack of date on the Supreme Court pledge means the inauguration can be delayed.
It would be up to Mr Cabello to decide to postpone the inauguration if he believed Mr Chavez's absence is temporary or head a caretaker administration for 30 days before fresh elections.
Chavez supporters say constitutionally he can only be denied office through death, resignation or incapacity certified by doctors and the national assembly.
The opposition say there's no ambiguity in the country's charter and called for Mr Cabello to take over from January 10 before a new vote.
Opposition alliance MUD deputy leader Ramon Jose Medina claimed that failing to swear in a new president would amount to a government-staged coup.
But Chavez supporters have pointed to growing concerns that the opposition may be seeking to mount a coup or orchestrate violence if Mr Chavez fails to swear his oath.
TV host Mario Silva said 50 international journalists from right-wing media outlets had sought permission to be in Venezuela for January 10.
All were former war correspondents with experience in Iraq, Libya and Syria who wanted to help create the conditions for a coup like that in April 2002, said the La Hojilla presenter.
Mr Maduro has also said numerous fake Twitter accounts have been set up in his name to spread "misinformation" about Mr Chavez's medical condition.
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