Simon Harris is the youngest-ever Irish prime minister

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Damien Storan – Pa Images | Pa Images | Getty Images The Irish parliament on Tuesday confirmed Simon Harris as the country’s new prime minister, making him the youngest-ever holder of the position.
Harris succeeds Leo Varadkar as taoiseach — Irish for leader — following a 88-69 vote by lawmakers.
Harris, formerly an education minister, ran unopposed to succeed Varadkar as leader of the center-right Fine Gael party.
In his first speech after the vote, Harris said he was entering office in a “spirit of humility” and wanted to bring a “new empathy” to public life.
In a speech last month after becoming presumptive taoiseach-in-waiting, Harris called his nomination an opportunity for the party to “reset.”
Political challenge Fine Gael gained fewer seats in the 2020 election than its conservative rival Fianna Fáil, the other dominant power in Irish politics.
Fine Gael held onto power by entering into a coalition with Fianna Fáil and the Green party.
Choppy growth Harris faces an economy in which growth slowed considerably in 2023, ING notes, and which has long raised concerns over its high reliance on multinational corporations.

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Damien Storan – Pa Images | Pa Images | Getty Images.

Simon Harris became the nation’s youngest prime minister when the Irish parliament approved his nomination on Tuesday.

A vote of 88 in favor and 69 against places Harris as the new Taoiseach, or Irish leader. President Michael D. Dot Higgins gave him his seal of office on Tuesday afternoon.

Using the social media site X, Harris expressed his gratitude for the position of Taoiseach and vowed to “work every day to realise the hopes, dreams and aspirations of all our people.”. “.

Surprising both the public and politicians, Varadkar abruptly announced his resignation towards the end of the previous month.

Harris, a former minister of education, defeated Varadkar to take over as the center-right Fine Gael party leader. Harris, who is 37 years old, will surpass Varadkar, who was 38 when he took over as Taoiseach in 2017.

In his first speech following the vote, Harris declared that he was taking office with a “spirit of humility” and that he wished to infuse public life with a “new empathy.”.

He pledged to “move mountains” in order to construct new homes, calling housing the biggest social issue facing society. Harris pledged to give rural and regional development top priority and to “act decisively” in response to the climate crisis.

Paul Faith | Afp | Getty Pictures.

He also denounced the “disproportionate reaction” of the Israeli government to the October events and described a “humanitarian catastrophe” in the Gaza enclave. Seven crimes carried out by Hamas, a militant Palestinian organization. He went on to say that Ireland would demand a cease-fire by utilizing its membership in the EU.

After assuming the role of presumed front-runner last month, Harris described his candidacy as a chance for the party to “reset” in a speech. “.

“Fine Gael is committed to assisting businesses, particularly small businesses, under my direction. Fine Gael is an advocate for keeping the family farm operating. According to Reuters, he stated at a party event, “Fine Gael stands for law and order, on the side of An Garda Siochána (police), where our streets are safe and crime is never allowed go unchecked.”.

Challenge to politics.

The other major force in Irish politics, Fianna Fáil, is a conservative party that Fine Gael lost seats to in the 2020 election.

According to the Irish Times, Sinn Féin doubled its vote share from 2016 to win the popular vote. The party ran on a platform that called for working toward unification with Northern Ireland, finding a solution to the dire housing crisis facing the nation, and upending traditional two-party politics.

By forming an alliance with Fianna Fáil and the Green party, Fine Gael managed to maintain its position of authority.

Prior to embarking on an election campaign where Sinn Féin is expected to emerge victorious, Harris will have little time to adjust to his new surroundings. Following Varadkar’s resignation, all opposition parties have called for a vote, which must be held by March 22 of the following year.

Victor Lochon | Gamma-rapho | Getty Images.

Harris faces several challenges, including “access to health services, meeting carbon emissions targets, and navigating the increasing visibility of the far right,” according to Shana Cohen, director of the Irish think tank TASC, who stated in an email that housing is the “obvious challenge.”. “.

Hospital staffing, teachers, and younger workers have all been impacted by the housing shortage and cost. dot. The national health policy Slaintecare is supposed to make health services in Ireland more affordable and accessible, but Cohen noted that the pace of change has been sluggish.

Following his parting speech in the Dáil, Varadkar was met with a standing ovation from the members of parliament.

Sinn Féin leader Mary Lou McDonald criticized his record, saying Harris would bring “more of the same” politics and that he had failed to address fundamental issues. Leader of the Green Party Eamon Ryan stated that Varadkar was departing from a robust economy.

uneven expansion.

As ING points out, Harris’s economy saw a significant slowdown in growth in 2023 and has long sparked worries due to its heavy reliance on foreign companies.

Diarmaid Sheridan, senior analyst at Davy Research, replied via email, “With an election in the next 12 months, [Harris’s] focus will be on delivering tangibles including on housing and most likely income tax reductions as part of the budget to be announced in the Autumn.”.

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“Foreign direct investment has been the main force behind economic growth over the last ten years, especially from American businesses. Harris has stated that steps will be necessary for smaller indigenous businesses that have been affected by inflation and higher structural cost burdens due to higher minimum wages, but that won’t change, according to Sheridan.

He went on to say that while VAT reductions or refunds might be part of this support, they would only be short-term fixes that might not deal with structural issues.

In a report released in March, the Economic and Social Research Institute projected growth in real incomes and expansion in all major economic activity indicators in 2024 and 2025. In a “small open economy with a very large multinational component,” it also highlighted the threat posed by geopolitical tensions, infrastructure bottlenecks, and the challenge of rising living expenses. “.

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