Leo Varadkar set to become Ireland's new prime minister

Cheryl Sanders
June 6, 2017

Varadkar came to personify the liberalisation of Ireland, which was long considered one of the most socially conservative nations.

Mr Varadkar beat his rival, Housing Minister Simon Coveney, with 60 percent of the votes.

Earlier PTI had reported that thousands of miles away from Ireland in Borivali, Mumbai, Leo's family had celebrated as the Indian-origin doctor and Ireland's first openly homosexual minister won the race to become the youngest PM the country has ever had.

Leo Varadkar made his foray into Irish politics when he was 22 and was elected to the parliament when he was 27.

Varadkar, now one of the youngest Irish PMs, is also first Prime Minister of Asian descent.

In 2015, Varadkar was widely praised for bravery and honesty when he said publicly spoke about his orientation, the first Irish government minister to do so.

Varadkar is now the minister for social protection and has earned a reputation as a candid politician.

The New York Times reported the news with the headline, "Gay Lawmaker, Leo Varadkar, Is in Line to Be Ireland's Prime Minister".

He will succeed Enda Kenny as leader of the centre-right party within weeks. Previous out European heads of government include Elio di Rupo, a gay man who was Belgium's prime minister from 2011 to 2014, and Johnanna Sigurdardottir, a lesbian who was Iceland's prime minister from 2009 to 2013.

Members of the Fine Gael parliamentary party will vote this morning in the election to choose Enda Kenny's successor as party leader.

He added: "Every proud parent in Ireland today can dream big dreams for their children".

Varadkar joined Fine Gael in secondary school and contested the 1999 local elections in the Mulhuddart area aged just 20.

But Varadkar has sought to position himself as a youthful, globally minded leader, in the mold of Canada's Justin Trudeau or France's Emmanuel Macron. He pledged to invest in large infrastructure projects, reform tax laws for the self-employed and has proposed to ban "essential" public workers from going on strike. He will also be the first from an ethnic minority background.

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