Irish Prime Minister Leo Varadkar resigned on Thursday but stayed on as interim leader while the country’s three main parties battle out coalition talks after an inconclusive election.
Varadkar, Ireland’s first openly gay leader, tendered his resignation as Taoiseach, or prime minister, to President Michael Higgins after the first sitting of Ireland’s lower house of Parliament since a February 8 election which radically recast the political landscape.
“In accordance with the constitution, the taoiseach and the government will continue to carry on their duties until successors have been appointed,” a government statement said.
Parties in the 160-seat chamber – the Dail Eireann – convened and nominated candidates to lead a new government as taoiseach but with none commanding a majority, the Dail was adjourned until March 5.
Sinn Fein leader Mary Lou McDonald received the most votes backing her. At 45, it was far short of the 80 needed to take office but it was a symbolic victory reflecting the surge the nationalist party enjoyed in the election.
Sinn Fein, which once served as the political wing of paramilitary the Irish Republican Army (IRA), became the second-biggest party with 37 seats – breaking the historic duopoly of centre-right parties Fine Gael and Fianna Fail.The people who vote for us aren’t going anywhere,” said McDonald.
“We have made a commitment to them to represent them well and to make our very best effort to deliver that government of change – and that is precisely what we intend to do.”