20 May, 2017
Two Fine Gael ministers are expected to confirm their intention to stand as candidates to succeed party leader and Irish Prime Minister Enda Kenny.
Kenny is the longest-serving member of the Dail, the lower house of parliament, having first been elected in 1975.
Based on yesterday's and today's declarations, Mr Varadkar has established a lead within the parliamentary party but those campaigning for Minister for Housing Mr Coveney say a significant number remain undecided.
It's day two of the campaign - and the Social Protection Minister boasts a significant lead over his rival Simon Coveney on declarations from the parliamentary party. An Tánaiste Frances Fitzgerald and Minister Richard Bruton have both refused to rule themselves out to date.
"Having inherited a country and an economy that was decimated by mismanagement, Enda's strong leadership and ability to make hard decisions was recognised both at home and overseas and saw our worldwide reputation restored and strengthened", he said. He was due to step down at midnight to become acting party leader until a successor is chosen.
Meanwhile, Leo Varadkar described him as an "extraordinary Taoiseach and Fine Gael's most successful leader ever".
Enda Kenny, the Irish Taoiseach, is stepping down as party leader, he announced in a statement on his Twitter account Wednesday.
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I will continue to carry out my duties as Minister for Finance until a successor is appointed.
Since he was first elected as TD, his career as Fine Gael leader has been a series of ups and downs.
The 66-year old leader has been Fine Gael's chairman since 2002 and the prime minister since 2011.
Helen McEntee, another junior minister in Mr Varadkar's camp, said: "Look at the fresh new approach he has taken to politics, look at how he interacts with people, look at his vision for a more forward-thinking and open Ireland".
Enda Kenny is leaving on a "high" and he should be replaced by Simon Coveney, according to the Cathaoirleach of Laois County Council and Fine Gael councillor Tom Mulhall.
Rank-and-file members are allocated 25 percent and councilors 10 percent.