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Leo Varadkar elected Irish Taoiseach for second time

Leo Varadkar was elected on Saturday as the Taoiseach or head of Ireland's government as part of a coalition. File Photo by Mike Theiler/UPI
1 of 3 | Leo Varadkar was elected on Saturday as the Taoiseach or head of Ireland's government as part of a coalition. File Photo by Mike Theiler/UPI | License Photo

Dec. 17 (UPI) -- Leo Varadkar on Saturday was elected as Taoiseach, or the prime minister the Irish government, for a second time, gaining power as part of a coalition arrangement.

Varadkar, a 43-year-old native of Dublin and head of the Fine Gael party, was elected in a 87-62 vote by the Dáil Éireann -- the lower house of the Irish Parliament -- after being formally nominated by the President of Ireland, Michael Higgins.

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Varadkar, a medical doctor, previously served as Taoiseach and minister of defense between 2017 and 2020.

On Saturday, he swapped roles with Fianna Fáil's Micheál Martin, who now becomes Tánaiste, or deputy leader. Martin will also serve as the country's foreign affairs minister.

The two parties agreed on the move when they struck a coalition in 2020 following the last general election, which saw Irish republican party Sinn Féin win more seats than both individually.

The exchange of power is a first for Ireland's government. The two parties have been rivals at the opposite end of the political spectrum for decades.

Ireland's next election is slated to take place by early 2025.

"I'm honored and privileged to have the opportunity to serve again," Varadkar said in a speech following his appointment to the post. "And I look forward to getting down to the hard work in the next few hours."

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Varadkar then released a full list of ministerial postings following a cabinet shuffle.

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