Sat. Apr 20th, 2024

Resignation of Irish Prime Minister Leo Varadkar< /p>Open in full screen mode

Irish Prime Minister Leo Varadkar a few days ago, during his visit to Washington.

Agence France-Presse

Irish Prime Minister Leo Varadkar announced Wednesday, to everyone's surprise, his resignation as head of the center-right coalition government, citing concerns “personal and political” reasons.

Visibly moved, the 45-year-old leader announced his departure in a statement to the press, one year before the expected date of the next elections.

I am resigning from the presidency and leadership of (centre-right) Fine Gael and will resign as Prime Minister as soon as my successor is able to take office, he said.

Leo Varadkar had been head of government since December 2022. In 2017, when he was 38 years old, this mixed-race and gay doctor became the youngest prime minister of a traditionally very conservative Ireland.

He gave way between 2020 and 2022 to Micheàl Martin, leader of another party participating in the coalition and now Minister of Foreign Affairs, within the framework of an unprecedented transfer between the two main parties of the center-right coalition in power.

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I have had the privilege of serving in public office for 20 years, 13 of which were in government and seven as leader of my party, most of which as Prime Minister of this great country,” said Leo Varadkar.

After seven years (at the head of the party), I no longer feel like I am the best person for this position, however, he admitted.

Politicians are human beings and have their limits, he added. We give everything until it is no longer possible and then we have to turn the page.

His departure comes after the debacle of the referendum proposed on March 8 by the government to modernize the Constitution, written in 1937, by modifying references to women and the family.

The vote had crystallized discontent in the country of five million inhabitants and the government had been accused of having poorly prepared the ground, while almost the entire political class had said it was in favor His legacy will be that of a loser at the polls, said Eoin O'Malley, professor of political science. at Dublin University, after the party recently lost five by-elections. He had no clear agenda and accomplished little, he added.

The country was shaken at the end of November by unprecedented riots, instigated by far-right activists, and incidents and demonstrations hostile to the reception of migrants.

< p class="StyledBodyHtmlParagraph-sc-48221190-4 hnvfyV">I am proud that we have made the country more egalitarian and more modern, said Leo Varadkar, defending his record, citing the rights of children, LGBT+ and women.

Emerging from rival camps during the civil war at the start of the 20th century, the two centre-right parties – Mr Varadkar's Fine Gael and Mr Martin's Fianna Fail – had implemented a rotation at the head of government as part of a coalition with the Greens after the 2020 elections.

The next legislative elections are due to be held by spring 2025, but the prime minister's resignation risks creating calls to convene voters earlier, especially after the recent failure of the referendum. Political analysts do not anticipate a vote in the immediate future.

The two center-right parties are currently credited with ;around 20% of voting intentions in the polls, far behind the nationalist Sinn Féin party, positioned on the left.

Potential successors include ministers Simon Harris (Education), Simon Coveney (Commerce) and Helen McEntee (Justice). Leo Varadkar was born on January 18, 1979 to an Indian immigrant father, a doctor, and an Irish mother, a nurse.

En 2003, he obtained his medical degree to become a general practitioner.

His first term as Prime Minister was marked by Brexit and the start of the pandemic of COVID-19. It was deemed effective in implementing the first confinement, one of the strictest in Europe. He then returned to work as a doctor once a week while remaining at the head of the country.

He also helped find a trade agreement in 2019 with the United Kingdom after Brexit: the Northern Irish Protocol, to avoid re-establishing a border on the island of Ireland with Northern Ireland.

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