Friday, January 27, 2023

Varadkar returns as PM of Ireland

Lawmakers elected Leo Varadkar as Ireland’s Prime Minister for a second time Saturday in agreed succession to Micheál Martin as the government partners vowed to defend the center ground of Irish politics against the nationalists of Sinn Féin.
“The distinguishing feature of centrist democrats is the ability to respect differences, find points of agreement, and cooperate. This is what we have done,” Martin said as he backed Varadkar’s nomination as Taoiseach, a core commitment in their coalition pact struck in 2020.
Under terms of that agreement, the nearly century-old rivals of Irish politics — Martin’s Fianna Fáil and Varadkar’s Fine Gael – formed their first joint government with support from a junior coalition partner, the Green Party. All three agreed that Martin would lead for the first 2 ½ years, Varadkar for the rest of an expected five-year administration.
They joined forces in common opposition to Sinn Féin, which topped the popular vote in 2020, has consistently led all opinion polls since, and regularly tests the coalition’s majority in hopes of triggering an early general election.
At a special weekend sitting of Dáil Eireann, the lower house of parliament, members voted along party lines 87-62 to give the top job back to Varadkar. He last served as Taoiseach— Gaelic for “chief”— from 2017 to 2020 as leader of a minority Fine Gael government backed externally by Fianna Fáil. That, too, was a novel arrangement shaped by the electoral rise of Sinn Féin.

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