CARACAS, Venezuela — Tens of thousands of demonstrators shut down much of Venezuela’s capital on Thursday, blocking the city’s main artery to protest what they call an attempted coup by the socialist administration.

Many carried signs reading “No to Dictatorship” as they crowded the principal highway that cuts from Caracas’ wealthy eastern section to downtown. Later in the day, a group of younger protesters clashed with police who turned the crowd away from the city center with tear gas, rubber bullets and water cannons.

The South American country has seen near-daily protests since the Supreme Court issued a ruling nullifying congress last week. The court pulled that decision back after it came under heavy criticism, but opposition leaders said the attempt to invalidate a branch of power revealed the administration’s true dictatorial nature.

Dubbed a “traffic jam against the coup,” Thursday’s demonstration was an attempt to show the government that the opposition will not let up pressure until early national elections are called.