Leo Varadkar, Ireland’s first openly gay prime minister and the EU’s youngest national leader, was formally instated on Wednesday, less than two weeks after his election on June 2. Varadkar’s predecessor, Enda Kenny, announced his resignation in May after a 15-year reign as party leader. Both Kenny and Varadkar are members of Fine Gael, a center-right party founded in 1933. Kenny previously nominated Varadkar—who went on to secure 60 percent of the vote—as his replacement.
“As the country’s youngest holder of this office, [Varadkar] speaks for a new generation of Irish women and Irish men,” Kenny said Wednesday, adding that Varadkar “represents a modern, diverse, and inclusive Ireland … an Ireland in which each person can fulfill their potential and live their dreams.” Varadkar’s own speech on Wednesday seemed to echo this sentiment. “The government that I lead will not be one of left or right,” he said. “The government that I lead will be one of the new European center as we seek to build a republic of opportunity … in which every citizen gets a fair go and in which every part of the country stands to share in our prosperity.”
Despite Kenny and Varadkar’s bumpy political relationship, their admiration is mutual. At his confirmation ceremony in Dublin on Wednesday, Varadkar thanked Kenny for calling a 2015 referendum on marriage equality, prompting Ireland to become the first country in the world to legalize same-sex marriage by popular vote. “Enda Kenny’s leadership enabled me to become an equal citizen in my own country two short years ago and to aspire to hold this office—an aspiration I once thought was beyond my reach, at least if I chose to be myself,” Varadkar said. Less than two decades ago, homosexuality in Ireland was considered illegal.