Jacinda Ardern, prime minister of New Zealand, has announced she will step down in favour of her party’s candidate in this year’s election because she does not feel she has “enough in the tank” to continue in the position.
Ms. Ardern became emotional while discussing the toll that six “challenging” years in the position had taken on her.
On Sunday, members of Parliament affiliated with the Labour Party will cast a ballot to choose her successor.
The unexpected news arrives as polls show the party has a tough road to re-election on October 14.
Ms. Jacinda Ardern, 42, said that she had given her future some thought over the summer break, with the hope of regaining the motivation to continue in her current position.
As she explained to reporters on Thursday, “But unfortunately I haven’t,” and “I would be doing a disservice to New Zealand” if she persisted.
Last Day In Office – Jacinda Ardern
Ms. Ardern’s last day in office will be February 7th. If no candidate for leader of Labour receives the backing of two-thirds of the party room, the decision will be put to the membership at large.
At the age of 37, Ms. Jacinda Ardern made history when she was elected prime minister in 2017.
A year later, she made history by becoming the second elected world leader to give birth while in office, following Pakistan’s Benazir Bhutto in 1990.
She led the country through the recession caused by the Covid-19 pandemic, the massacre at a Christchurch mosque, and the eruption of a volcano on White Island.
Ms. Ardern stated that the last five and a half years as prime minister were the “most fulfilling” of her life, despite the fact that they were the most challenging due to the “crisis” the country was experiencing.
“Due to their sheer magnitude and persistence, these occurrences have been draining. Never have we felt like we were simply governing.”
Chris Luxon, leader of the opposition National Party, was one of many who expressed gratitude to Ms. Ardern “for her service to New Zealand.”
The opposition leader said of her on Twitter, “She has given her all to this incredibly demanding job.”
Ms. Ardern has been praised as a leader with intelligence, strength, and empathy by Australia’s prime minister, Anthony Albanese.
He gushed about Jacinda, saying, “Jacinda has been a fierce advocate for New Zealand, an inspiration to so many, and a great friend to me.”
Canada’s Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau, praised her “immeasurable” impact.
Despite Ms. Ardern’s international celebrity status, polls show that her popularity at home is declining.
By capitalising on her government’s effective early response to the pandemic, she led the Labour Party to a sweeping electoral victory in 2020.
The latest polls, however, show that both her and her party’s popularity are at record lows, and that few people approve of the job they’ve been doing in office.
To the BBC in 2022, Ms. Ardern explained that the government’s unpopularity was the cost of protecting the public from Covid-19.
However, she is also dealing with a backlog of election promises that were made before the pandemic but put on hold while the country dealt with the aftermath.
Different people have reacted differently to her declaration. Someone from Ms. Ardern’s own Auckland electorate told the NZ Herald that she was “running away before getting thrown out,” blaming her for rising crime and housing costs.
Some people think of her as “one of the greatest prime ministers in New Zealand’s history,” such as Max Tweedie of Auckland Pride.
New Zealand actor Sam Neill agrees, saying that Ms. Ardern’s treatment at the hands of “bullies” and “misogynists” was “disgraceful.”
The star of Jurassic Park tweeted, “She deserved so much better.”
Despite the party’s and her own unpopularity, Ms. Jacinda Ardern insisted that she would not be resigning.
I’m not quitting because I think we can’t win the election; I’m quitting because we need new blood to take on the challenge.
Although potential candidates have yet to emerge, several members of parliament (including deputy leader Grant Robertson) have already said they won’t be running.
Ms. Ardern highlighted the work of her government in combating climate change, increasing access to social housing, and decreasing child poverty.
She did, however, express a desire for posterity to remember her as “someone who always tried to be kind” in New Zealand.
“When I leave New Zealand, I want the people there to know that it is possible to be both compassionate and courageous, understanding and firm, upbeat and determined. And that you have the ability to be a leader in your own right, one who recognises when it’s time to leave, “the woman declared.