New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern Resigns
New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern announced Thursday that she will step down, saying she no longer had “enough in the tank” after a premiership defined by her response to a series of crises.
Ardern, 42, has become a global progressive icon since her election in 2017 and won praise for her handling of the nation’s worst mass shooting and the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic. But her approval ratings have plummeted at home, jeopardizing her re-election prospects and intensifying the vitriolic abuse she has experienced throughout her time in office.
“With such a privileged role comes responsibility — the responsibility to know when you are the right person to lead, and also when you are not,” Ardern said in a surprise announcement in Napier, where her governing center-left Labour Party is holding a caucus retreat. “I know what this job takes, and I know that I no longer have enough in the tank to do it justice.”
She said she would resign as prime minister no later than Feb. 7 and would not seek re-election to Parliament later this year.
“This has been the most fulfilling 5½ years of my life, but it has also had its challenges,” Ardern told reporters. “Among an agenda focused on housing, child poverty and climate change, we encountered a major biosecurity incursion, a domestic terror event, a major natural disaster, a global pandemic and an economic crisis.
“The decisions that have had to be made have been continual, and they have been weighty,” she said.
Ardern, who was the world’s youngest female leader when she first took office, has faced a number of challenges including the mass shooting at two mosques in Christchurch that killed 51 people, a deadly volcanic eruption, an outbreak of cattle disease and the coronavirus.
“Her international reputation in many ways has been made out of dealing with things that no one would have wanted,” said Grant Duncan, an associate professor at Massey University in Auckland.
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