Venezuela's national assembly has approved a constitutional amendment to remove limits on how many times President Hugo Chavez can serve.
The amendment, which applies to all elected officials, must be approved by a referendum within 30 days, a vote correspondents say is set to be close.
Mr Chavez urged a change in the law in his annual address on Tuesday.
He said it would be dangerous to remove a captain from his ship halfway through the voyage.
The measure is Mr Chavez's second attempt at seeking unlimited re-election. A similar referendum was defeated in late 2007.
The constitutional amendment will now be presented to the national election board, which will convene the referendum, thought likely to be in mid-February.