Varadkar leapfrogs Bruton to avoid being shortest-serving Taoiseach

FG leader becomes party’s fifth-longest-serving Taoiseach on Christmas Day

Leo Varadkar will stop being the shortest-serving Taoiseach on Christmas Day when he will leapfrog John Bruton's 924 days in office to become Fine Gael's fifth longest-serving Taoiseach and the 13th longest-serving overall.

Mr Varadkar, the country’s 14th leader, will on Wednesday have served 925 days as Taoiseach since taking office on June 14th, 2017. On Tuesday he equals Mr Bruton’s tenure as taoiseach in the Fine Gael-led rainbow coalition between December 1994 and June 1997.

The Fine Gael leader will have to serve as Taoiseach until April 15th and April 17th next year to pass Brian Cowen and Albert Reynolds, two former Fianna Fáil leaders, respectively as the next shortest-serving taoisigh.

Mr Cowen served as taoiseach for 1,036 days between May 2008 and March 2011, while Mr Reynolds served for 1,038 days between February 1992 and December 1994.


Mr Varadkar has a long way to go before unseating Enda Kenny as the longest-serving Fine Gael taoiseach. Mr Kenny served for 2,289 days, from March 2011 to June 2017.

Mr Kenny is followed by John A Costello, Garret FitzGerald and Liam Cosgrave as the next long-serving Fine Gael taoisigh.

Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil are considering when the next general election should be held.

Christmas break

Mr Varadkar has said he would consider the timing of the election over the Christmas break. His previously stated his preference for a poll was May but he is said to have discussed with Fine Gael colleagues the possibility of calling a winter election or waiting until the summer.

The UK’s expected departure from the EU on January 31st could pave the way for an election in February or March, given that Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin, whose party keeps Fine Gael in power with a confidence-and-supply deal, has previously ruled out an election before Brexit.

Three of the last six general elections were held in winter months: in 1992 (November), 2011 and 2016 (both in February). The 2002 election was held in April, 2007 in May and 1997 in June.

Simon Carswell

Simon Carswell

Simon Carswell is News Editor of The Irish Times