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Varadkar’s second coming: will he be Leo the liability?

Under the coalition agreement, the Fine Gael leader returns as Taoiseach in just under 12 weeks. Can he revive his party’s fortunes amid growing doubts about his combative style?

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Getting ready to rotate: Taoiseach Micheál Martin and Tánaiste Leo Varadkar at the Béal na mBláth commemoration last month. Picture by Frank McGrath

Getting ready to rotate: Taoiseach Micheál Martin and Tánaiste Leo Varadkar at the Béal na mBláth commemoration last month. Picture by Frank McGrath

Slow start: At his first local election in 1999, Varadkar polled just 380 votes

Slow start: At his first local election in 1999, Varadkar polled just 380 votes

Varadkar in talks with British PM Theresa May in 2018. Varadkar’s popularity surged at various points in the Brexit negotiations

Varadkar in talks with British PM Theresa May in 2018. Varadkar’s popularity surged at various points in the Brexit negotiations

Leo Varadkar's approval rating was at its highest during the early days of the pandemic. Photo by Mark Condren

Leo Varadkar's approval rating was at its highest during the early days of the pandemic. Photo by Mark Condren

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Getting ready to rotate: Taoiseach Micheál Martin and Tánaiste Leo Varadkar at the Béal na mBláth commemoration last month. Picture by Frank McGrath

It is the big handover that will make or break the career of Leo Varadkar. In December, Micheál Martin will pack up his belongings in the Taoiseach’s office, most likely for the last time, and hand the baton back to the Fine Gael leader. Varadkar will become the first leader since Charles Haughey to return to the job after a break in his service as taoiseach.

Haughey returned for his third, and arguably most fruitful, stint in 1987, and for Varadkar’s supporters it will be the second coming.


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