Simon Harris Is About to Become Ireland’s Youngest Leader. Who Is He?

Simon Harris was three years into a university degree when he dropped out in 2008.

A job had come up as a parliamentary assistant to an Irish senator, and Mr. Harris, an ambitious 20-year-old from a coastal town in County Wicklow, south of Dublin, saw “an opportunity to try and make a difference,” he later told HotPress, a Dublin-based magazine.

He never looked back. On Tuesday, at 37, he is set to become the Republic of Ireland’s youngest ever head of government, the culmination of a swift political rise to a post he has long aspired to.

“He’s always been hungry for this role,” said David Farrell, a professor of politics at University College Dublin, noting that although Mr. Harris was young, he was not lacking in political experience. “His career has been short, but it’s been meteoric.”

But Mr. Harris will reach the top at a moment when his center-right party, Fine Gael, has stagnated in the polls. And unless he can revive its fortunes, his time as premier may also be short-lived.

By the end of March 2025, Ireland will hold a general election that could see Sinn Féin, the Irish left-wing nationalist party that won the popular vote in 2020, garner enough seats to form a government. Support for traditional parties has waned in the wake of a cost of living crisis and a severe housing shortage.

Mr. Harris was propelled to the leadership of Fine Gael by the surprise resignation of his predecessor, Leo Varadkar, last month. The party governs Ireland in coalition with two others, and Mr. Harris will become taoiseach (pronounced TEE-shock), or prime minister because of a quirk of the coalition arrangement rather than a reflection of any national public endorsement.

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