Jacinda Ardern, the prime minister of New Zealand, said Thursday that she would step down in a few weeks. She said she doesn’t think she has the energy to run again in the October elections.
At a news conference, Ardern said that her term would end on February 7, when she expects a new Labour prime minister to be sworn in, but “depending on the process, that could be earlier.”
“I made my own choice,” Ardern said. “Being the leader of a country is the best job anyone could ever have, but it’s also the hardest. You can’t and shouldn’t do the job unless your tank is complete and you have a little extra in case something comes up that you didn’t expect. “I don’t have what it takes to do the job right anymore,” she said.
When Ardern became New Zealand’s prime minister at age 37 in 2017, she was the country’s third female leader and one of the youngest world leaders. Within a year, she became only the second world leader to have a baby while in office.
New Zealand’s Jacinda Ardern has announced her shock resignation just months before she was expected to run for a third term in office⁰ https://t.co/RmhBoevjm6 https://t.co/VYxjuUnKKa
— Bloomberg (@business) January 19, 2023
She was re-elected for a second term in 2020. Her victory was helped by her government’s “go hard and go early” approach to the Covid-19 pandemic, which led New Zealand to have some of the strictest border rules in the world, separating families and keeping almost all foreigners out for nearly two years.
Thursday, Ardern was honest about how hard her job has been and thought back on the various crises her government has had to deal with, such as the pandemic and the 2019 Christchurch terror attack, in which 51 people were killed at two mosques.
The attack was a turning point in Ardern’s time as leader, and her quick response was praised by many. She quickly changed gun laws, wore a hijab to show respect for the Muslim community, and said in public that she would never say the name of the person who is thought to have done the shooting.
“The only interesting thing about me is that I am still a person after six years of big problems. She said, “Politicians are people, too.” “We do all we can for as long as possible, and then it’s time. And it’s time for me.”
Ardern also talked about what she had done well during her office, like passing laws about climate change and child poverty. “I wouldn’t want the last five and a half years to be about the problems. “For me, it was also about how things were getting better,” she said.
Bryce Edwards, a political scientist at New Zealand’s Victoria University of Wellington, said that Ardern’s resignation was “shocking” but not a total surprise.
“She is well-known worldwide, but her government’s popularity has dropped sharply,” he said. The next general election in New Zealand will be on October 14.
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The Meteoric Political Rise of Jacinda Ardern
Ardern, a former DJ and former Mormon was the closest thing New Zealand had to a rock star politician. She drew huge crowds to rallies and got nonstop press coverage. During her first election, she had a lot of support from young people. This was called “Jacindamania.”
Ardern has been on the covers of Vogue and Time magazines and had American TV host Stephen Colbert over to her suburban Auckland home because she is famous.
But while Ardern won fans worldwide for her new and caring approach to the job, her popularity in New Zealand has dropped in recent years. Some critics say she hadn’t done much to make the changes she promised when she was first elected.
Late in 2022, several polls showed that support for Ardern and her Labour Party was falling, with some at their lowest level since she took office in 2017.
The political analyst, Edwards, said that Ardern’s decision to step down might keep her from getting a disappointing election result.
“Now is the best time for her to leave… “Rather than lose the election, she will leave on good terms,” he said.
Edwards said there isn’t “anyone obvious” to take her place. However, Police and Education Minister Chris Hipkins, who has a good relationship with Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, and Justice Minister Kiri Allan are both possible candidates.
Ardern said she doesn’t know what she’ll do next, but she’s looking forward to spending more time with her family. “They may be the ones who have given up most of us,” Ardern said.
She told her daughter and her fiance, “Neve, Mom can’t wait to be there when you start school this year, and Clarke, let’s finally get married.”
Since 2019, Ardern has been going out with TV host Clarke Gayford.
Breaking Barriers and Creating Change
Ardern became known as a leader because she talked about gender equality and women’s rights. For example, when she announced her pregnancy in 2018, she spoke about how women can work and be mothers simultaneously.
“I’m not the first woman to do more than one thing at once, and I’m not the first woman to work and have a baby. I know these are special circumstances, but there will be many women who have done this long before me,” she said at the time, with Gayford taking on the role of a stay-at-home dad.
After she gave birth, she and Gayford brought their 3-month-old baby to the United Nations General Assembly. Ardern said she wanted to “make a path for other women” and help make workplaces more open.
In an interview, she talked about her rise to power and said, “It wasn’t that long ago that being a woman in politics was a very lonely thing to do.”
Thursday’s news that she was going to resign soon got a lot of support on social media, including from other political leaders. Many people pointed out the example she was setting for women in politics.
Anthony Albanese, the prime minister of Australia, wrote on Twitter that Ardern “has shown the world how to lead with intelligence and strength” and that she has been “a great friend to me.”
Penny Wong, the Australian foreign minister, also tweeted her best wishes to Ardern, saying she was “an inspiration to me and many others.”
Justin Trudeau, the prime minister of Canada, posted a picture of himself and Ardern walking together on Twitter and thanked her for being his friend and for her “empathetic, compassionate, strong, and steady leadership” over the past few years. “You have made an enormous difference,” he said.
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