Leo Varadkar, a doctor who served as health minister, was elected as the new leader of Ireland’s ruling Fine Gael party on Friday, bringing him another step closer to becoming the prime minister.
At 38 years old, not only would he be the youngest prime minister, but the first who is openly gay and of South Asian descent.
In 2015, he came out on Irish national radio, joining a handful of other openly gay politicians in Ireland in support of a bill for same-sex marriage, as reported by BBC.
Varadkar beat his rival, Housing Minister Simon Coveney, and was backed by a majority of the Fine Gael’s local council members and 51 of its 73 parliamentary colleagues, whose votes accounted for 65% of the total, according to multiple reports.
He will be replacing Prime Minister Enda Kenny who announced in May that he would be stepping down once his a successor was selected. Kenny reportedly faced increasingly pressure from his party over how he handled a scandal involving the Irish police force.
Varadkar will be confirmed as the new prime minister, also known as the Taoiseach, when the Irish Parliament reconvenes on June 13.
Following the announcement on Friday, Varadkar said he was “honored” to accept the “enormous challenge” and was humbled by what lies ahead.
“If my election shows anything it’s that prejudice has no hold in this Republic,” he said. “When my father traveled 5,000 miles to build a new home in Ireland, I doubt he ever dreamed his son would grow up to be its leader.”
“Any child growing up in Ireland now, I hope, looks at me and my unlikely story and my background, and everything about me, and perhaps says to themselves, that there is no office in this state that I can’t aspire to, nothing that they can’t do if they believe in themselves,” the new prime minister said.
“But our job as a party is to make sure that every person in our country actually has those opportunities, because we don’t have equality of opportunity in this country, there is great inequality of opportunity in this country, but as a party I want to dedicate ourselves to building a Republic of opportunity.”
— Brian Hutton (@magicbathtub) June 2, 2017
Ireland is on course to have its first openly gay Prime Minister – Leo Varadkar pic.twitter.com/Xy706J4zLo
— Channel 4 News (@Channel4News) June 2, 2017
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