Ireland set to have first gay PM

Ireland is to get its youngest prime minister, and the first who is openly gay.

Leo Varadkar, the 38-year-old Minister for Social Protection, was elected leader of the ruling Fine Gael party on Friday, June 2, 2017.

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

Mr Varadkar is also expected to reach out to Fianna Fáil to reaffirm the "confidence and supply agreement" that underpins the minority government.

Votes were tallied and the result announced in the Round Room of Dublin's Mansion House.

Leo Varadkar has been elected the new leader of Fine Gael.

Varadkar is contesting on behalf of the Fine Gael, a party that was according to its own website "founded in 1933 following the amalgamation of a number groups: the pro-treaty Cumann na nGaedheal of WT Cosgrave, the Centre Party under Frank MacDermot, and the National Guard".

He announced his candidacy after Prime Minister Enda Kenny announced his resignation, a title referred to as Taoiseach in Ireland.

He defeated Simon Coveney in the Fine Gael elections.

Born to an Indian immigrant father and an Irish mother, Varadkar is now serving as Ireland's Minister for Social Protection.

"It's not something that defines me".

Experts are viewing Varadkar's win as a significant step towards equality in the country. Brexit has major implications for Ireland, the only European Union country to share a land border with the United Kingdom. I am not a half-Indian politician, or a doctor politician or a gay politician for that matter.

"It is just part of who I am", he said at the time.

While local media barely mentioned Varadkar's gay credentials, one former government minister commented that the process of his elevation to the prime minister's office came "without anybody batting an eyelid" shows just how far Ireland has come.

There have already been numerous reports across the world about Varadkar's election to the top position in his party.

Turning to runner-up Coveney, he said more united than divided them, and "I know we are going to work together to bring Fine Gael and Ireland forward".

Speaking after the victory, in which he campaigned for the "yes" vote, Varadkar told RTE: "One of my motivating factors in doing it was that I couldn't pretend to be objective in this campaign as it was personal".

  • Salvatore Jensen