Ireland’s ruling party named 38-year-old Leo Varadkar, an openly gay son of an Indian immigrant, as its new leader, leaving him poised to succeed current prime minister Enda Kenny in June, Reuters reports.
Lawmakers from Fine Gael, the largest party in the Irish parliament, elected Varadkar in an overwhelming vote Friday. Varadkar defeated Simon Coveney to win the leadership position in the country’s center-right party, which leads the governing coalition in parliament.
Varadkar is expected to become prime minister when parliament returns on June 13.
Kenny, 66, resigned as party leader in May and will remain as head of the government until the Irish parliament returns. Kenny has been prime minister since 2011 and oversaw the country’s 2015 vote legalizing gay marriage.
Varadkar will become the youngest person to become prime minister, and the first openly gay leader in the country’s history. He will also become the first prime minister with an ethnic-minority background.
Ahead of the 2015 vote on a referendum legalizing gay marriage, Varadkar, then a cabinet minister, came out as gay.
“It’s not something that defines me,” he said on RTE radio, according to Sky News. “I’m not a half-Indian politician, or a doctor politician or a gay politician for that matter. It’s just part of who I am. It doesn’t define me.”
The referendum was adopted in a landslide vote, with more than 60 percent of Irish voters backing the measure.
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