Health Care

Leo Varadkar wins: Ireland elects first openly gay Prime Minister

Leo Varadkar wins: Ireland elects first openly gay Prime Minister”

Mr Varadkar beat his rival, Housing Minister Simon Coveney, with 60% of the votes to lead Fine Gael - the biggest party in the coalition government. The 21,000 rank- and-file members of the party have 25 per cent and 235 local representatives 10 per cent.

The victor of the contest will be announced when votes for the leadership of the Fine Gael party are counted in the Mansion House in Dublin. The country was debating allowing same-sex marriage at the time, and Varadkar is regarded as playing a significant role in the success of the eventual "yes" campaign.

He is also the youngest Taoiseach in the history of the State and will now take over from the departing Enda Kenny, who stepped down after becoming the longest serving Taoiseach in the history of the Fine Gael party.

In the meantime, Varadkar will have to keep his parliamentary party onside as he ponders who will and will not be in his new cabinet.

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Leo Varadkar has become Ireland's first gay leader.

"I'm trying to unite people not divide them, and that kind of language is about separating the public sector from the private sector, separating the achievers from the non-achievers", he said.

His conformation will take place on June 13 when Parliament reconvenes.

Varadkar's opponents, who hope his blunt style will prove a liability rather than an asset to Fine Gael, were quick to claim that the current social protection minister - who recently led a campaign against "welfare cheats" - would move the government to the right. "I doubt he ever dreamed that his son would one day grow up to become its leader and despite his differences, his son would be treated the same and judged by his actions and character, and not by his ardents and identity", he said. His father Ashok Varadkar had met his mother Miriam in 1960s when she was working in Britain's National Health Service.

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While Fine Gael claims that austerity policies are easing off and the economy is improving, Varadkar will still have to grapple with an ongoing homeless crisis, mass youth emigration and, most notably, the fallout from the UK's Brexit vote. Coveney needed 33 to win although Varadkar had 46 committed to him before the count.

The election of Varadkar is another major step towards equality in the country after legalizing gay marriage in 2015.

Varadkar's pick represents a break with tradition also because he is the son of an Indian doctor father - an unusual heritage for an Irish politician.

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