New Zealand PM Ardern says she will step down next month

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New Zealand PM Ardern says she will step down next month

New Zealand PM Ardern says she will step down next month

THURSDAY, JANUARY 19, 2023

New Zealand Prime Minister, Jacinda Ardern, announced her resignation on Thursday, saying she will stand down as leader by early February.

Ardern said she still believed New Zealand Labour would win the upcoming election, due this year.

“I know what this job takes and I know I no longer have enough in the tank to do it justice,” Ardern told media.

As the country’s youngest leader in more than a century, the charismatic 42-year-old’s response to the mass shooting by a white supremacist in Christchurch, a fatal volcanic eruption and her success with the Covid-19 pandemic has won her international praise and admiration.

Ardern’s brand of liberal, inclusive and compassionate leadership has seen some even label her “the anti-Trump”.

Having previously worked under former New Zealand Prime Minister Helen Clark and as an advisor to former British Prime Minister Tony Blair, Ardern rose to become Labour Leader in 2017.

Her communication skills and ability to connect with the public – dubbed “Jacinda-mania” – helped upstage the 2017 election, which had previously been seen as a shoe-in for the ruling centre-right National Party. In October 2017, Ardern, then 37 years old, became New Zealand’s third female prime minister through a coalition deal after an inconclusive election.

In January 2018, Ardern and her partner Clarke Gayford – a television fishing show presenter – made the announcement that she was pregnant with her first child. The couple said they found out the news six days before she secured power.

Ardern gave birth in June 2018 to Neve Te Aroha, becoming only the second leader in history after Pakistan’s Benazir Bhutto to give birth while in office.

On her return from a six-week maternity leave, Ardern spoke at the United Nations and at the World Economic Forum (WEF) in Switzerland, highlighting issues such as gender equality and climate change.

But it was her leadership in the aftermath of the Christchurch mosque shootings in March of 2019 that turned a global spotlight onto Ardern, where she helped New Zealand grieve following the country’s worst peacetime mass shooting that shook the nation to its core.

She prompted the government to quickly enact and tighten gun laws, as well as urged changes to the role social media plays in the propagation of violent and extremist media.

Ardern and Gayford became engaged in mid-2019.

Ardern’s Prime Ministership was tested once more when 21 people died when the White Island volcano erupted when their tour party were visiting the location.

With the onset of the coronavirus pandemic, Ardern moved quickly to close New Zealand’s borders to all foreigners to slow the spread of Covid-19. She implemented a one-month compulsory lockdown for the country, telling New Zealanders to behave as if they had the coronavirus and cut all physical contact outside of their households.

A video of Ardern staying cool and continuing a live TV interview during an earthquake that rattled Wellington, encapsulated for many her poise.

After progressively lifting social restrictions to curb the spread of the coronavirus, Ardern led the country to 102 straight days without domestic transmission.

However, praise for her prolonged lockdown of the country began to diminish by 2022 and led to a 3-week protest outside the parliament house.

Reuters

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