Leo Varadkar was born on January 18, 1979, in Dublin, Ireland. He is an Irish politician who became the leader of the Fine Gael party and Ireland's first openly gay prime minister in June 2017.
John Varadkar was born to an Indian-born physician father and a largely Irish nurse mother. Before settling in Dublin, the family had lived almost all their life in England and India. When he spoke he announced at age 7 or 8 that he wanted to be a minister for health. He attended a Catholic school and later went on to study for his science degree at a Protestant school. After completing his high school and medical degrees, he began working as a general practitioner for St. James's hospital in Dublin before qualifying fully into practice.
A young Varadkar's interest in politics didn't delay with adulthood. From an early age, he was involved with the Fine Gael youth wing and actively readied himself to be a public figure. In 1999, at the age of 20, he managed to run for local government, but he lost miserably. He made a comeback when appointed to Fingal County Council in 2003 for what came to be known as his political resurrection.
In October 2003, at the age of 28, he ran for council in Castleknock and received 4,800 votes-more than any other candidate that year. A win against an incumbent senator back in 2007 (Varadkar was 32 years old) allowed him entry into national politics.
Early on, Varadkar demonstrated a reputation for being outspoken and frank, which some observers characterized as straight talk. However, he was also branded arrogant and brash. At just 29 years old, he said that he wanted to become an engineer like his father but instead became a politician because parliament matters more than the people you hire and fire in that line of work. He also controversially took a position as Fine Gael's spokesperson on Enterprise, Trade, and Employment in 2011 saying that those who are unemployed should be paid benefits if they agree to leave the country.
Varadkar served as Minister for Transport, Tourism, and Sport in Ireland following the February 2011 general election. Successfully rising from the process without alienating Kenny or limiting his prospects of advancement, Varadkar helped usher in a resurgence in Irish Tourism with the staging of an estimated 5,000 events nationwide over the course of 2013. He also led to further improvements in Ireland's international visitorship rate by about one million per year. In addition, Varadkar oversaw the development of a new National Ports Policy and Road Safety Strategy before leaving office.
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In July 2014, he became minister for health, fulfilling his childhood ambition, although he did not hold the notoriously challenging position for more than two years. In January 2015, Varadkar revealed his sexual orientation during an appearance on Irish national radio (RTÉ).
In doing so, Varadkar became the country's first openly gay government minister. Despite the fact that it was just over two decades since homosexuality had been decriminalized in Ireland, the announcement came four months before Irish voters voted to legalize same-sex marriage in a national referendum.
In May 2016, Varadkar became the social protection minister. In that post, he raised some eyebrows with his especially vigilant pursuit of the department’s Welfare Cheats Cheat Us All initiative, which sought to convince people to report welfare frauds to the department. In May 2017, Varadkar introduced a Social Welfare and Pensions Bill that required the publication of names and other details of individuals convicted of welfare fraud quarterly.
In May 2017, Kenny announced he would be stepping down as leader of the party and taoiseach, pending the election of his replacement. The subsequent leadership battle became a contest between Varadkar and Coveney, with Coveney winning the rank-and-file vote but Varadkar finishing first amongst members of parliament and party councilors to win.
A usual surprise for many was that Varadkar is the youngest taoiseach in Ireland’s history and the first openly gay taoiseach. The two qualities are connected. However, as a dedicated believer in the EU, he became a prominent symbol of opposition to Brexit. He's also been active on the issues of the potential impact of Brexit on the Ireland - Northern Ireland border, arguing that imposition of a hard border would undermine the integrity of the Good Friday Agreement. In doing so, he's cut a stylish figure on the international stage like no other politician before him.
His focus on Brexit did not prove popular with many of his constituents, but Varadkar's emphasis on handling that issue seemed to resonate little with Irish voters when they went to the polls in February 2020. Instead, their primary concerns appeared to be the country's long waiting lists for hospital services and its endemic housing crisis—characterized by declining levels of home ownership, soaring rents, and disturbing levels of homelessness. Disenchanted with Varadkar's Fine Gael party as well as with Fianna Fáil, the electorate turned to more unreliable alternative options: Sinn Féin in particular.
They advanced a lot more first preference votes in this election than they had previously (24 percent, up from 20 percent), which means that Sinn Féin was now a larger political exception than Fine Gael or Fianna Fáil. Aware of Sinn Fein's surging popularity, Varadkar ran into problems at this election by saying he would not enter into coalition rule with Sinn Fein and that he would be preferred staying in office as an opposition leader instead. Because none of the three leading vote-getting parties had won anything like a parliamentary majority in the 160-seat Dáil (38 seats for Fianna Fáil, 37.
Ireland's health system reacted quickly to contain the global coronavirus virus, which originated in China. As the response didn't go well, Varadkar used his medical skills to adjust and led efforts to protect the Irish citizens from contracting this usually fatal disease. He also canceled traditional Saint Patrick's Day celebrations in order to decrease public exposure in time.
In March, Varadkar imposed a national lockdown, which would last until May. The lockdown successfully reduced the spread of the virus dramatically. A record decline in GDP of over 6 percent during the second quarter of 2020 was a result of the lockdown's strict restrictions, which had a devastating effect on the economy.
On June 27th, Fianna Fáil leader Micheal Martin was elected as the new taoiseach. This made Varadkar's premiership come to an end after four months and a coalition government was formed between Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil. The power-sharing agreement called for Fine Gael to lead the government for the first half of a five-year term, and Fianna Fáil would take over at the midpoint.
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