Ana Brnabić has been appointed as the country’s first openly gay and female prime minister.
The 41-year-old is a graduate from the University of Hull in England and is a non-party technocrat.
President Aleksandar Vucic announced on Thursday that Brnabić was his prime minister-designate. She now has the mandate to form a new government, providing her cabinet receives formal approval in Parliament next week.
Serbian news agency B92 reported that Vucic described Brnabić as “hard-working, [with] professional and personal qualities.”
Brnabic told state Tanjug news:
“If elected in parliament, I will run the government with dedication and responsibility and I will do my job honestly and with love.”
Brnabić only began her career in politics last year, when she became Serbia’s first openly gay minister.
Previously, she studied in the US and graduated from the University of Hull in 2001 with a marketing MBA. Later, she returned to Serbia to work in the wind power industry and for other development projects.
The Guardian reports that Goran Miletić, a civil rights activist said:
“Even in some western countries it would be big news and a positive signal if a gay or lesbian person became prime minister or minister.”
“It is even more important for a country where 65% believe that homosexuality is an illness and 78 per cent think that homosexuality should not be expressed outside homes.”
“The appointment of a lesbian can only be a positive message.”
Miletić continued to explain that LGBT rights were low priority for the government. Vučić’s administration only recently made progress, by legalising gender reassignment surgery.
Pro-Russian nationalists have since expressed anger over Vucic’s choice.
The conservative opposition Dveri group, close to the Serbian Orthodox Church, claimed that the appointment was because of Western pressure.