‘Leo Varadkar, the gay son of an Indian immigrant, is set to be Ireland’s next Taoiseach [Prime Minister],’ said the Irish Independent.
The 38-year-old failed to win the popular vote, but defeated rival Simon Coveney to become leader of the ruling Christian Democratic Fine Gael party following the resignation of former Taoiseach and party leader Enda Kenny.
As leader of a fragile coalition government Mr. Kenny had recently come under fire. His party lost 26 seats in the 2016 election, and a policing scandal exposed the underlying fragilities in the coalition.
Mr Varadkar, the former Minister for Social Protection, beat Mr. Coveney, the current Housing Minister, by 60% to 40%. The large minority vote share means Mr. Coveney is likely to seek to become Tánaiste [vice Prime Minister].
The new Taoiseach-elect ‘ruled out an early general election, indicated he would leave Independent ministers in their positions and promised an abortion referendum in 2018.’
He also didn’t dismiss the possibility of a future ‘Grand Coalition’ with the conservative Fianna Fáil party.
Mr. Varadkar dismissed the notion that the election had split the party, and refused to answer questions regarding his new Cabinet.
He also said he hoped that ‘his “unlikely story” would inspire others.’
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In his victory speech, the ‘clearly emotional minister said: “Around the world people look to Ireland as a country where it doesn’t matter where you come from but where you want to go.
“I know when my father travelled 5,000 miles to make his home in Ireland, I doubt he ever dreamed that his son would one day grow up to be its leader.
“That despite his differences, his son would be treated the same and judged by his actions and character not his origins or identity.”’
The outgoing Taoiseach, Enda Kenny, offered his “heartiest congratulations” to Mr. Varadkar.
Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin said that his party was ‘committed to underpinning’ Fine Gael’s minority Coalition formed just over a year ago.
In response, Mr. Varadkar said he did not “want to get into the space of speculating about coalitions of the future.”
Citing the fact that the Coalition still has two more years left, he said: “It wouldn’t be right in the middle of a tango to see who else is lining up along the wall.”