There’s life after Enda for Fine Gael as Leo Varadkar is tipped to succeed
Ireland will have a new Taoiseach by this Friday, June 2nd as Leo Varadkar and Simon Coveney will decide which one of them will take over from the recently resigned Enda Kenny as leader of the Fine Gael party.
And it looks as if the country is set to elect its first openly gay minister as Mr Varadkar, the current bookies favourite, has bigger public support with senators and TDs. Voting began on Monday in the leadership contest with the result due to be announced on Friday.
Almost 21,000 members are eligible to take part in the vote to select the new party leader, and most likely the next Taoiseach. TDs and senators have the biggest say, with 65 per cent of the total vote, while councillors have 10 per cent and members have 25 per cent.
If Mr Varadkar was to become party leader he would also become the country’s first leader of Asian immigrant descent and, at 38, the youngest person to hold the office.
Mr. Kenny took over as leader of the party in 2002 and was first elected Taoiseach in 2011. He became the first Fine Gael Taoiseach to be elected to a second term in 2016.
Although Mr Varadkar is seen as slightly liberal due to his campaigning on the same-sex marriage referendum, he has been criticised for his hardline approach as Minister of Social Protection. The former Health Minister, and qualified doctor, has upped his campaign to clampdown on benefit cheats but has been fiercely criticised in some quarters, including by a former social welfare inspector, and opponents who questioned the level of fraud in the system.
Mr Coveney, from Cork, has similarly held a number of ministerial positions in government but is currently facing weekly criticism of his efforts to tackle the country’s unprecedented housing and homelessness crisis. He set himself a deadline of the end of June to end the practice of putting up thousands of families who need emergency accommodation in hotels and B&Bs.