Irish Prime Minister Resigns

( – Irish Prime Minister Leo Varadkar surprised everyone by announcing his resignation recently, saying that he was no longer the “best person” to lead the government.

Varadkar’s resignation is effective immediately, but his party, center-right Fine Gael, will have to choose a successor first. Although the party has been making a poor showing in recent polls, the Irish PM’s decision to step down was held so close to his chest that not one of his colleagues saw it coming.

Varadkar’s appointment as prime minister was one of the most radical and progressive in the country’s history, being the first openly gay man to be appointed as Ireland’s taoiseach. Taoiseach directly translates to “chief” or “leader” but is used nowadays to refer to the country’s head of state. Varadkar was also the first taoiseach of South Asian descent, as well as the youngest – he was only 38 when he was first appointed – to hold the position. Varadkar has served as the Irish premier for close to two terms – the first beginning in 2017 to 2020, while his is currently on his second, which began in 2022.

Elections in Ireland will not be held for another year, with Fine Gael’s list of nominees for Varadkar’s replacement set to be announced on April 5, while voting is scheduled for April 9.

In his resignation speech, Varadkar expressed confidence that the current government could still be reelected, but only under a new taoiseach.

“A new taoiseach will… renew and strengthen the top team, to refocus our message and policies, and to drive implementation,” the outgoing taoiseach said. Varadkar also said that he had “personal” reasons for resigning, but he did not elaborate on what those were.

The decision of Varadkar to step down throws another wrench into the struggling political machinery of Fine Gael, which is set to lose a third of is incumbent lawmakers, due to their decision to not run for reelection when their current term ends. Fine Gael also has to contend with a large deficit in opinion polls against Sinn Fein, the main opposition party.

Simon Harris has since gotten the job as Prime Minister.

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