October 6, 2020 10:46:35 am
Ana Brnabic, Serbia’s first female and openly gay prime minister, will lead the government for a second term following a landslide win by the ruling party. Aleksandar Vucic, who as both president and leader of the Serbian Progressive Party holds the ultimate power behind the administration, appointed Brnabic on Monday.
Brnabic’s appointment should sail through parliament, where the Progressives control 188 of the 250 seats. The dominating victory followed a boycott of the June 21 election by the main opposition parties, which have accused Vucic of using his political influence to marginalize opponents and suppress media critical of his rule.
“Brnabic has fiercely fought for her country,’’ Vucic said on television, adding she is expected to put together a new cabinet in the coming days. Women may make up half of the cabinet, he said.
The main drive of Brnabic’s government, under Vucic’s direction, has been to advance Serbia’s plan to join the European Union this decade. A the same time, the country has been locked in a standoff over its refusal to recognize its neighbor Kosovo, which declared independence from Belgrade in 2008, a decade after the two sides fought the last war in the bloody breakup of Yugoslavia.
Brnabic was surprise choice for premier in 2017 when Vucic gave up the post to become president. Initial negativity in the traditionally conservative Serbian society soon subsided as the powerful president strongly endorsed her as a non-partisan, U.K.-educated leader. She eventually joined his political party in 2019, while he transformed the presidency from a largely ceremonial post into the country’s main executive position.
The prime minister has unreservedly supported Vucic’s domestic and foreign policies, overseeing a center-right cabinet seeking to attract foreign investments to boost growth and advance EU entry talks. At the same time, she has backed Vucic in rejecting western pressure to acknowledge Kosovo’s sovereignty.
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