On Thursday, New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern made the shocking declaration that she had “no more in the tank” to continue leading the country and would resign by the beginning of February and not run for office.
Ardern, trying not to cry, said that her five and a half years as prime minister had been difficult, that she was only human, and that she needed to step down.
“Because that’s what this year requires, I had hoped to find a way to prepare for not just another year but also another term this summer. Ardern, 42, stated at a press conference, “I have not been able to do that.”
She continued, “I know there will be much discussion as to what the so-called’real’ reason was in the aftermath of this decision… The only interesting angle you will find is that after going on six years of some big challenges, that I am human.”
Politicians are people, too. For as long as we can, we give everything we have, and then it’s time. And it is time for me.”
On Sunday, the ruling New Zealand Labour Party will hold a vote to elect a new leader; Until the next general election, the leader of the party will serve as prime minister. The leadership term of Ardern will end on February 7, and a general election will be held on October 14.
Ardern stated that she thought Labour would win the next election.
Grant Robertson, deputy prime minister of New Zealand and finance minister, said in a statement that he would not run for Labour leader.
Ben Thomas, a political commentator, said that Ardern’s announcement came as a big surprise because polls still ranked her as the country’s preferred prime minister despite the fact that support for her party had dropped from the heights it reached during the 2020 election.
Thomas stated that there was no obvious replacement.
Ardern stated that she was resigning because she believed others could do a better job rather than because the position was difficult.
She made it a point to tell her daughter Neve that she was excited to be there when she started school this year, and she also told her long-term partner Clarke Gayford that it was time for them to get married.
Ardern became the youngest female head of state in history in 2017 when she became the world’s youngest.
She passionately advocated for women’s rights, ending child poverty, and reducing economic inequality in the country, riding a wave of “Jacinda-mania.”
She gave birth eight months after becoming premier, making her the second elected leader after Benazir Bhutto of Pakistan to do so while in office. Ardern was seen by many as part of a new wave of progressive female leaders, like Sanna Marin, the prime minister of Finland.
Her response to the 2019 mass shootings at two mosques in Christchurch that resulted in the deaths of 51 people and the injuries of forty others established her compassionate leadership style.
According to Farid Ahmed, a survivor and the husband of a Christchurch attack victim, “Her universal call for human unity with compassion made me cry with joy then, and it makes me cry now.”
He stated, “Her compassion, wisdom, and efforts for a peaceful world have been a remarkable example for world leaders.” I recognize that she requires rest and wish her the best in her life.”
When Ardern met with the Muslim community a day after the attack, she wore a hijab and quickly referred to the attacks as “terrorism.” She also told them that the entire country was “united in grief.” Within a month, she delivered on her promise to reform major gun laws.
“Jacinda Ardern has demonstrated to the world how to lead with strength and intelligence. On Thursday, Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese stated, “She has demonstrated that empathy and insight are powerful leadership qualities.”
Ardern was praised by politicians from all political parties for her handling of the COVID-19 pandemic. The country faced some of the strictest measures in the world, but it also had one of the fewest deaths.
However, over the past year, her popularity has decreased as a result of rising crime, aggressive cash rate increases by the central bank, and inflation that has reached levels not seen in nearly three decades.
Over issues like the introduction of an agricultural emissions program and the government’s overhaul of the water infrastructure, the country’s political divide has grown. Both Labour and Ardern have seen their support drop in opinion polls.