Varadkar returns as Prime Minister of Ireland – POLITICO

DUBLIN — Lawmakers elected Leo Varadkar as prime minister of Ireland for the second time on Saturday in a agreed row to Michael Martin as government partners pledged to defend the center of Irish politics against nationalists from Sinn Féin.

The hallmark of centrist democrats is the ability to respect differences, find points of agreement, and cooperate. That’s what we’ve done, and it’s a core commitment in the coalition agreement they struck in 2020, Martin said as he endorsed Varadkar’s candidacy for the position of Taoiseach.

Under the agreement, century-old opponents of Irish politics – Martin’s Fianna Fáil and Varadkar’s Fine Gael – formed their first joint government with the support of their junior coalition partner, the Greens. All three agreed that Martin would drive for the first two-and-a-half years, and Varadkar for the remainder of the expected five-year run.

Join forces subscriber opposition To Sinn Féin, which topped the popular vote in 2020, has consistently topped all opinion polls since then, and Regular tests The majority in the coalition hopes for early general elections.

In a special weekend session of the Dáil Eireann, the lower house of Parliament, members voted along party lines. 87-62 To return the top job to Varadkar. He last held the position of Taoiseach – Gaelic for “chief” – from 2017 to 2020 as leader of a Fine Gael minority government supported externally by Fianna Fáil. This was also a new arrangement shaped by the electoral ascent of Sinn Féin.

As his first act in office, Varadkar announced a cabinet reshuffle designed to keep the interests of Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil in balance. Martin becomes Foreign Secretary, a position he previously held from 2008 to 2011. This makes him the new Irish man for better relations with the neighboring UK region of Northern Ireland, where many British unionists view the Irish government with hostility.

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Current Fine Gael Foreign Secretary Simon Coveney is moving to Varadkar’s former role as Minister for Trade, Enterprise and Employment. Fianna Fáil’s Michael McGrath has changed cabinet functions with Eurogroup President Paschal Donohoe, the highly regarded Chief of Finance who now takes on the complementary role of Minister for Public Expenditure.

Varadkar, a 43-year-old from Dublin, and Martin, a 62-year-old Corkman, early overcame behind-the-scenes tensions to lead an exceptionally supported stable Irish coalition. strong state finances Fueled by American multinational corporations.

On Saturday, they entered Parliament House in Leinster House together, surrounded by well-wishers. They are joined by Martin’s wife, his three children and the parents of Varadkar, an Indian doctor and an Irish nurse who met at a Dublin hospital.

Varadkar noted in his victory speech that when he became Ireland’s youngest Taoiseach in 2017, much attention focused on “what he stands for and symbolizes” in that he became the country’s first leader of an ethnic immigrant group and its first openly gay prime minister. .

This time, he said, leading a country “in which you are free to be yourself” will mean fixing the biggest problem with Ireland’s booming economy and rapidly growing population – Scarcity of housing and the inability to afford itespecially in the capital, where the average monthly rent is 2,300 euros.

“We are failing some of our citizens. “It is essential to our success as a country that we spend the next two years doing everything we can to rectify this situation,” Varadkar said.

Sinn Féin leader Mary Lou MacDonald, who declined to stand in the leadership vote, accused Varadkar of spending his last 11 years at the cabinet table advocating for “inner class” and housing policies designed for “wealthy investors and corporate landlords.”

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She tells Varadkar and Martin across the hall that they are “essentially the only party now” – and will suffer a double defeat whenever the next election is called.

“You can stand in the way of change,” said MacDonald, whose party is already working. the biggest In Northern Ireland, where Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael do not contest elections. You can make people wait a little longer, but you can’t and won’t stop that change. …the old ways in borrowed time.”

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