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Mr. Varadkar, who said on Wednesday that he would step down as Ireland’s prime minister, has had a career of firsts. His resignation came as a surprise.

When Leo Varadkar said on Wednesday that he was resigning as Ireland’s prime minister, the surprise announcement ended a chapter in the career of a politician who has twice led the country, but whose party faces a struggle in elections next year.

As Mr. Varadkar ascended to the role in 2017, his identity — as the country’s first openly gay leader and its first with South Asian heritage — was viewed as evidence of Ireland’s rapid modernization. At 38, he was also its youngest leader.

Mr. Varadkar was born in Dublin to an Irish mother and a father born in India. Before embarking on a career in politics, he trained as a doctor. During a referendum campaign in 2015 on the legalization of same-sex marriage, Mr. Varadkar, who at the time was health minister, announced that he was gay, a measure credited with bolstering the “Yes” vote.

By the time he became prime minister, or taoiseach, Mr. Varadkar’s party, Fine Gael, had been in power for six years and was facing a crisis over domestic policy, including issues like health, education and housing. In an election in 2020, the party slumped to third place and formed a coalition with its rival center-right party, Fianna Fáil, and with the Green Party to hold onto power.

As part of the coalition deal, Mr. Varadkar resigned as leader and was succeeded by Micheál Martin, the leader of Fianna Fáil. After a stint as deputy prime minister, Mr. Varadkar returned to the top job in December 2022.

Speaking in Dublin with cabinet members behind him on Wednesday, Mr. Varadkar trumpeted what he described as his government’s achievements on domestic issues and singled out moves to enshrine personal rights.

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