RIYADH, Saudi Arabia (AP) — President Donald Trump says the first day of his maiden international trip has been “tremendous.” Trump was largely kept away from reporters during a busy day of meetings and ceremonies in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. But late in the day, he said deals the U.S. government and private sector reached would […]
Ireland’s Varadkar opens up commanding lead in race to succeed PM Kenny
DUBLIN (Reuters) – Ireland’s Social Protection Minister Leo Varadkar has opened up a commanding lead in the race to succeed Enda Kenny as prime minister after securing the publicly declared support of most of his Fine Gael parliamentary party.
Kenny resigned as head of the governing center-right party on Wednesday, kicking off a contest between Varadkar and Housing Minister Simon Coveney to take over. Fine Gael will pick its new leader by June 2.
Varadkar, the son of an Indian immigrant and Ireland’s first openly gay minister, has won the backing of 37 of Fine Gael’s 73 lawmakers before even officially launching his campaign, according to public declarations and media reports.
Nineteen have said they would vote for Coveney, and 17 have yet to say who they will back.
The 73 lawmakers, under party rules, account for 65 percent of the selection vote, with the balance split between ordinary party members and councillors, whom an Irish Times tracking poll showed were evenly split so far.
“It’s essentially over as a race,” said Eoin O’Malley, politics lecturer at Dublin City University.
“It would have to break two-to-one for Coveney among the party members to give him a chance, and only a chance. That’s not going to happen. Any opinion polls of Fine Gael members have shown that the majority prefer Varadkar.”
Varadkar, whose supporters came out in force on Thursday to hand him the early advantage, secured the backing of a number of senior colleagues on Friday including foreign affairs minister Charlie Flanagan and Paschal Donohoe, the favorite to take over as finance minister from the retiring Michael Noonan.
Supporters of Varadkar say his straight-talking manner could widen the party’s appeal after Kenny’s steady stewardship and boost their position in the polls ahead of elections likely late next year.
Varadkar was careful not to sound triumphant, however.
“It’s definitely not (over),” he told reporters. “It’s day two of a 16-day contest. It’s started really well and I’m really humbled at the level of support I have received from my colleagues, (but) I’m not counting my chickens.”
(Reporting by Padraic Halpin; Editing by Hugh Lawson)
- President Trump wins warm welcome in Saudi Arabia
May 20, 2017
- New Russia probe leaks threaten to derail Trump’s foreign trip
May 19, 2017
- Toddler found wandering street at night reunited with family
May 22, 2017
- President Trump visits Israel in search of revived peace process
May 22, 2017
- Suicide bomber kills at least 22, including children, at Britain concert
May 23, 2017
Editorial CartoonsView More »
Thu, May 18, 2017