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Confirmation of Serbia's first gay premier thrown into doubt
In this photo taken Friday, June 16, 2017, Serbia's Prime Minister-designate Ana Brnabic speaks to media in Vrnjacka Banja, Serbia. The ruling conservatives say that if Serbia's Prime Minister-designate Ana Brnabic does not get enough votes to be confirmed by parliament as the first openly gay person to head the country's government, early general elections would be held. (AP Photo - Darko Vojinovic)
By DUSAN STOJANAVIC
From Associated Press
June 19, 2017 7:46 AM EST

BELGRADE, Serbia (AP) — Serbia's ruling conservatives said Monday if Prime Minister-designate Ana Brnabic doesn't get enough votes to be confirmed by parliament as the first openly gay person to head the country's government, an early general election will be held.

Brnabic, nominated last week by Serbian Present Aleksandar Vucic, could also become the conservative nation's first female prime minister if she's selected. But some of Vucic's coalition partners said they will vote against her because of her sexual orientation.

Vucic on Monday met with 100 of his Serbian Progressive Party lawmakers who promised to vote for Brnabic in Serbia's 250-seat parliament. She needs at least 26 more votes to be confirmed.

After the closed meeting, Vucic only said "everything will fine."

The vote was originally scheduled for later this week, but it has been now moved to next week because of the uncertainty.

Serbian Progressive Party official Marija Obradovic said that if Brnabic doesn't get the additional support by Thursday, an early vote will be called. That would be the third snap election in Serbia in five years.

"It was important for us that everyone declares individually if (he or she) is for or against" Brnabic's nomination," Obradovic said.

"There were different stands," she said, adding that despite their different opinions on Brnabic's nomination, everyone agreed to vote for the nomination once it happens in parliament.

U.S.-educated Brnabic, 41, was a minister in Vucic's government before he became president in April. Although not a member of his party, she is considered to be loyal to the autocratic leader.

Brnabic's nomination was considered part of Vucic's tactics to please the West amid his recent apparent shift toward Russia despite officially claiming European Union membership is Serbia's "strategic goal."

Serbia's LGBT population has often faced discrimination, harassment and intimidation.

If approved, Brnabic will join a handful of other openly gay leaders in Europe. Earlier this month, Ireland selected Leo Varadkar to head their governing party who will lead the government.

Copyright 2017 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.