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Why Georgia's government believes it can despise the EU and retain power – POLITICO

The crowd cheered, despite warnings from Brussels that the foreign agents law would reduce the chances of this ever happening.

“Because the Georgian dream confuses the population – by often saying that Georgia will become a member of the EU while ignoring the conditions put forward by Brussels – many voters think we are on the right track,” Akhvlediani said.

Uneven playing field

Georgian Dream also maintains a strong network of supportive media outlets who have seen their crusade against LGBTQ+ rights and civil society as an attempt to advocate for Georgian values. A 2021 UN report found a highly polarized television and print environment, with the media showing deference to either the government or select opposition parties.

Georgian Dream also maintains a strong network of supportive media outlets leading their crusade against LGBTQ+ rights. | Vano Shlamov/AFP via Getty Images

At the same time, according to the OSCE, Georgia's elections were marred by allegations of intimidation, vote buying and even the arrest of prominent political opponents such as former President Saakashvili, who is accused of abuse of office. Meanwhile, Georgian Dream is said to have given a significant advantage in voting through the “misuse of administrative resources,” the OSCE said.

But despite their frustration, many Georgians say they see no clear alternative to the ruling party. The country's largest opposition bloc, the United National Movement founded by Saakashvili, has struggled to distance itself from criticism of his term in office, which has been marked by accusations of nepotism and a cult of personality.

While pro- and anti-government demonstrations outside Georgia's large, Soviet-built parliament building have now become a regular feature, journalists say they have been kept away from the hallways for weeks as political strife grows to prevent them from engaging with lawmakers to deal with.

Anna Harden

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