Gay Irish politician won’t take his partner to events if he becomes Prime Minister
Voting is underway in an Irish leadership election that will decide the country’s next Prime Minister.
Fine Gael party members are voting to replace Ireland’s Taoiseach (Prime Minister) Enda Kenny, who announced his departure earlier this year.
Leadership contender Leo Varadkar is the hot favourite to replace him as both party leader and head of government, maintaining a strong lead over his only remaining rival, Simon Coveney.
Mr Varadkar, currently the Minister for Social Protection, would be only the fourth openly gay head of government in recent global history if elected.
Speaking to the Irish Independent, Mr Varadkar revealed that if he is elected, his partner Dr Matt Barrett will not take on the traditional spousal role if he is elected.
He said: “That wouldn’t be my plan.
“First of all, we’re not married. We’ve only been going out for two years… and, secondly, while that has been the tradition in politics, it doesn’t necessarily have to be.
“Take Angela Merkel. She is on her third term at the moment. She has been chancellor for nearly 15 years. She has a husband [Joachim Sauer] but he has a job.
“He has only ever attended one occasion with her because he has his own career. I think that would be part of the generational shift in politics, because traditionally you had a male leader, a wife who had given up her job.
“We are now moving into an era across the world where men and couples have their own careers.
“[Matt] would attend the odd thing with me. But he has a day job.”
He added: “Matt is just a very special person. Someone who is unconditionally on my side, which is always great. He is the kind of person who has made me a better person.
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“[He] is definitely cleverer than me. Which occasionally, I can find intimidating. He is very, very intelligent. He can read faster than me. He can do calculations faster than me. He is very bright.
“He is a Gaeilgeoir as well. And although he is not really party-political, it is amazing how quickly he understands politics. He gets it really quickly.”
The election result will be announced on Friday.
If elected, Mr Varadkar would be the second serving out world leader, next to Prime Minister of Luxembourg Xavier Bettel.
Mr Bettel’s husband recently attended a wives’ reception during a NATO summit.
However, the White House initially left the Luxembourgish First Gentleman out of its initial report of the event, only listing the women who met with US First Lady Melania Trump.