Poland's lawmakers approve contentious new electoral rules

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People protest during the "Chain of the lights" demonstration against judicial reforms, near the Presidential Palace in Warsaw, Poland, Thursday, Dec. 14, 2017. Some thousands of protesters across Poland demonstrate against proposed new legislation that may give the ruling party control over courts and a key judicial body. (AP Photo/Czarek Sokolowski)

WARSAW — Poland's lawmakers have approved much-criticized new rules for local elections that opponents say undermine the independence of the electoral bodies.

The parliament voted late Thursday to approve the ruling party's changes to the electoral law and to the State Electoral Commission, ahead of local elections next year.

Opposition lawmakers say the fairness of elections will now be questionable under the new rules.

The head of the electoral commission, Wojciech Hermelinski, said yesterday he will seek a meeting with President Andrzej Duda to share his skepticism.

Under the new rules lawmakers are to choose seven out of nine commission members and the interior minister is to appoint election supervisors.

The bill needs Senate's and Duda's approval.

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