Leo Varadkar: the liberalizing leader of Ireland

DUBLIN: mixed race, openly gay and only 41 years old, Leo Varadkar captures the spirit of a liberalizing Ireland, but now faces a struggle to remain prime minister.

Varadkar assumed the leadership of the center-right ruling party in June 2017, when incumbent Enda Kenny resigned in the middle of a parliamentary period.

On Saturday, the public expressed their opinion about their two and a half years of service as taoiseach of Ireland during their major disorders in modern memory.

He also faces voters in the wake of Brexit, after overseeing a historic housing crisis and with polls that suggest public patience is running out after nine years of his party.

Varadkar was born in Dublin from an Irish mother who worked as a nurse and an Indian immigrant father, who was a doctor.

At the age of seven, it is reported that an early Varadkar told his mother's friends that he wanted to be a health minister.

After obtaining a medical degree, he devoted himself to general practice, but remained involved in politics, and in 2007 secured the election of Fine Gael in the constituency of Dublin West.

Fine Gael rose to power in the general elections of 2011 when the ruling party Fianna Fail took the blame for the recession after the Celtic Tiger that devastated the economy of the republic.

In the period 2011-2016 he served first as minister of transport, tourism and sport, and then as minister of health.

In 2015, before the Irish referendum that legalizes same-sex marriage, Varadkar came out publicly as a homosexual. His partner, Matthew Barrett, is a cardiologist.

I'm a gay man, it's not a secret, but it's not something everyone would necessarily know, Varadkar told the RTE station.

It is not something that defines me ... It is part of my character.

The revelation raised its profile with praise from all sectors of Irish politics and beyond.

It came at a time when the country was preparing to reform the Roman Catholic Church The strong historical control of civil society.

Two years later, Varadkar became leader of the party.

Then, at 38, he became the youngest Taoiseach, as well as the first openly gay head of government and the first of the Indian heritage, in the country's history.

One of Varadkar's first measures as prime minister was to announce a public vote on Ireland's strict abortion laws. In May 2018, the country voted for an overwhelming 66 percent to revoke the ban.

Varadkar called it a silent revolution, a phrase characteristic of his aversion to the ideology and rhetoric of the fire mark.

Others have said that he is distant and socially uncomfortable, but his appeal was elsewhere.

Part of that was that he embodied the spirit of the time: a confident gay man with an Indian father. He seemed to be seen as the leader of a new and improved Ireland, he wrote in The 2018 newspaper.

But while his liberal credentials are strong, Varadkar has been prosecuted for accusations that the Fine Gael government he directs is failing in housing, homelessness and health.

Varadkar dismisses claims that he lacks the common touch.

I care deeply about our country and the problems we face. I may not be able to express it in words as well as my opponent does, but I do it in action, he said.

Varadkar's mandate has also been overshadowed by the 2016 British seismic vote to leave the European Union .

He hopes to return to his position by promoting the achievements of his government in the Brexit negotiations, which have prevented the emergence of a hard border between the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland.

But public and national media seem to be more focused on problems at home, something that Varadkar has had to recognize.

You want us to focus on issues such as health and housing in the next three years with the same passion and intensity that we have focused on Brexit in the last three years, he said in Ennis, Western Ireland, on his last day out. Campaigning on Friday.

He also accepted that Fianna Fail and Sinn Fein's parties were keeping him close.

This choice is open. It's a three horse race, he said.

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