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Georgia’s parliamentary speaker signed off a law this week that will give the country’s legislature more power to pick members of the electoral commission, a move critics say favors the incumbents in the runup to elections in October, Reuters reported.

The bill will allow parliament – dominated by the ruling Georgian Dream party – to nominate members of the commission from candidates chosen by parliament’s Speaker, Shalva Papuashvili.

Georgian President Salome Zourabichvili had initially vetoed the bill, but parliament overrode that veto last week.

Opposition parties have warned that the new law will further entrench Georgian Dream’s dominance over the election, at a time when the government has been accused of becoming more authoritarian.

The ruling party, in power since 2012, remains the most popular. according to opinion polls. However, it has lost ground since the 2020 parliamentary elections, when it secured a narrow majority.

The party is widely believed to be controlled by its founder, Bidzina Ivanishvili, a former prime minister and Georgia’s richest man.

Zourabichvili – who was elected with the support of the Georgian Dream – has accused the governing party of anti-democratic and pro-Russian tendencies.

Earlier this week, the party proposed a new bill that could severely restrict LGBTQ rights, banning gender changes, same-sex adoption, and public celebrations of same-sex relationships, Politico noted.

Echoing Russia’s anti-LGBTQ laws, the draft legislation aims to “protect family values,” but critics called it a bid to court the Georgian Orthodox Church and secure votes in upcoming elections.

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