Newly elected Taoiseach and Fine Gael leader Simon Harris is congratulated by party colleagues and well wishers as he leaves the Leinster House to go to Áras an Uachtaráin to receive his seal of office. Photo by Sasko Lazarov/

EDITORIAL: A New Taoiseach

Well, that was simple and easy enough.

The transfer of executive power in a parliamentary democracy can be sometimes difficult, sometimes relatively easy, sometimes almost like just another day.

And so it was in Dublin Tuesday when Simon Harris was voted into the highest office in a Dáil vote of 88-69. Simon Harris of Wicklow is the new taoiseach, taking over from Leo Varadkar of Dublin. 

Speaking following the Dáil vote, and according to an RTE account, Mr. Harris said that the government was a "partnership government" and paid tribute to Leo Varadkar as "a trailblazer."

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He told the Dáil that he accepts his new role as taoiseach "in a spirit of humility, ready for the challenge, and full of energy and determination about what can be achieved."

A taoiseach "should work every day to realise the hopes, dreams and aspirations of all our people." And Mr. Harris continued: "Now is an opportune moment to build a new social contract, which renews our promise as a republic. I sincerely promise to be a Taoiseach for all. No matter your political persuasion.

"I will work with you and for you, and for the country that I know we all love. I will be a Taoiseach who will listen. The Irish story is a story of hope, a spirit of optimism sustained us in the darkest of days. And today, once again, we must ensure it lights our way forward.

"Let us not make the mistake of giving into pessimism and despair about our future."

Mr. Harris was proposed for the office of taoiseach by the Minister for Social Protection and newly appointed deputy leader of Fine Gael, Heather Humphreys. 

Now former taoiseach Leo Varadkar said his time in politics has been the "most fulfilling and rewarding time" of his life, and wished Mr Harris well as his successor.

Said Varadkar: "I always knew he would be taoiseach one day. This has perhaps come a little bit sooner than he might have planned or expected. But I know he will rise to the occasion.

"He has empathy, energy, experience, campaigning skills and political antennae to take us forward and I look forward to voting for him and the new Cabinet in the house later today."

With Harris now in charge there will be a cabinet reshuffle.

Some will be promoted, some demoted. As the head of a three-party coalition government that will be a little more complicated than might be the case with a single party administration.

But, overall, what occurred in Irish politics today was a trauma-free political event.

Perhaps, on this side of the ocean, we should feel just a little bit envious. That said, of course, Harris will be immediately considering the prospect of a general election within a year.

His political honeymoon will be a decidedly short one.