Ireland's prime minister, Leo Varadkar, has resigned

Ireland's prime minister, Leo Varadkar, has resigned

Prime Minister of Ireland Leo Varadkar arrives to attend a European Union summit on Feb. 1 in Brussels, Belgium.

Pier Marco Tacca/Getty Images

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Pier Marco Tacca/Getty Images

Prime Minister of Ireland Leo Varadkar arrives to attend a European Union summit on Feb. 1 in Brussels, Belgium.

Pier Marco Tacca/Getty Images

LONDON — Ireland’s prime minister, Leo Varadkar, has announced he will step down from that office within weeks as soon as his Fine Gael party chooses a successor.

Varadkar announced Wednesday he is resigning immediately as head of Fine Gael, which is part of a coalition government. That sets in motion a leadership race, akin to a primary in the U.S. system.

“I am resigning as president and leader of Fine Gael effective today, and will resign as taoiseach as soon as my successor is able to take up that office,” Varadkar said in an emotional speech in Dublin.

He said his reasons for stepping down are “both personal and political.”

“It has been the most fulfilling time of my life,” Varadkar said, choking up.

But he said he believes his center-right party will do better in upcoming elections under a different leader, who would take office sometime after the March 31 Easter holiday.

Now 45, Varadkar was the youngest ever elected to the role of taoiseach, or prime minister, when he took office, first from 2017 to 2020 and again since late 2022.

Ireland's First Openly Gay Prime Minister Formally Takes Office

A doctor whose father is originally from India and mother is Irish, Varadkar is Ireland’s first biracial prime minister. He is also the first openly gay person to hold the top office in once-staunchly Roman Catholic Ireland.

Varadkar campaigned to legalize same-sex marriage in 2015 and to legalize abortion in 2018.

Irish elections are due later this year or in early 2025. Fine Gael has been trailing in the polls, behind Sinn Fein, a left-wing party with ties to the Irish Republican Army.

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