Jacinda Ardern, New Zealand’s Prime Minister and leader of the Labour Party since 2017, has announced that she will be resigning from her office. Prime Minister Ardern, known as an icon for liberal leaders around the world, will leave office by Feb. 7, she said in a tearful speech during the Labour Party’s summer caucus retreat.
Ms. Ardern, 42, claimed that she did not feel prepared to complete another term with political tensions rising in her country. “I believe that leading a country is the most privileged job anyone could ever have, but also one of the more challenging,” she said. “You cannot and should not do it unless you have a full tank plus a bit in reserve for those unexpected challenges.” However, she added that being Prime Minister “has been the most fulfilling five and a half years of my life. I am leaving because with such a privileged job comes a big responsibility.”
As New Zealand’s youngest prime minister in 150 years, Ms. Ardern has been especially favored among younger generations. She originally became prime minister in 2017 and won re-election in 2020 by a landslide due to her effective response to the COVID-19 pandemic which allowed residents to live a mostly normal life for much of the pandemic, a solution that was largely popular among the electorate. Furthermore, her response to the 2019 massacre of 51 people at mosques in Christchurch spurred by anti-Muslim hate clearly portrayed her as a leader in the liberal wing of politics. In just a week, Ms. Ardern imposed temporary restrictions on the purchase of guns and passed a law soon thereafter to ban most semiautomatic weapons. “We represent diversity, kindness, compassion,” she said. “A home for those who share our values. Refuge for those who need it.”
According to Ms. Ardern, Labour Party lawmakers will elect a new leader of the party and, therefore, the country within three days. The party has been facing major political challenges in recent months due to economic turmoil and a spike in crime. As the New York Times reports, “The party has polled behind the center-right National Party, led by Christopher Luxon, a former aviation executive. As of December, support for Labour was at 33 percent, compared with 38 percent for the National Party.” However, despite this lack of support for the party, Ms. Ardern has continued to regularly outperform Mr. Luxon, the opposition leader, in polls as most New Zealanders’ “preferred prime minister.”
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