New Zealand Prime Minister resigns

New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern announced today (19) in Wellington that she “had nothing left in the tank” to continue leading the country. She said she would step down no later than early February and would not seek re-election.

Ardern, holding back tears, said it had been a difficult five-and-a-half years as prime minister and that she was only human and needed to step aside.

“This summer I was hoping to find a way to prepare myself not just for another year, but for another term – because that’s what this year calls for. I haven’t been able to do that,” Arden, 42, said in a Collective interview.

“I know there’s going to be a lot of discussion after this decision about what the so-called ‘real’ reason was… The only interesting angle you’ll find is that after six years of some big challenges, I’m human,” she said. “Politicians are human. We give everything we can, for as long as we can, and then the time comes. And for me, it’s time,” he explained.

election on sunday

The election to appoint a new leader of the ruling Labor Party will take place on Sunday. The chosen one will be prime minister until the next general elections. Ardern’s term as leader will conclude on February 7 and a general election will be held on October 14. Ardern said he believes Labor will win the next election.

New Zealand Deputy Prime Minister Grant Robertson, who also serves as finance minister, has revealed he will not seek to run as the next Labor leader.

Ardern’s successor as party leader and prime minister faces a severe test in a general election, with support in the Labor Party falling and the country expected to slide into recession in the next quarter.

A 1News-Kantar poll – released in December – showed Labor with 33% support, against 40% at the start of 2022. This means that even with the coalition’s traditional partner, the Green Party, having 9% support, the Labor failed to retain a majority in parliament.

Observers point to several Ardern ministers with prospects for the post of leader and prime minister, including former covid minister and current education and police minister Chris Hipkins and current justice minister Kiri Allan.

Ardern stressed that he was not resigning because the job is difficult, but because he believes others can do a better job.

She told her daughter Neve she was looking forward to being there when she started school this year and told her longtime partner Clarke Gayford that it was time for them to get married.

Ardern burst onto the world stage in 2017 when she became the youngest woman in the world to assume the post of head of government at the age of 37.

women’s rights

Riding a wave of “Jacinda-mania”, she campaigned passionately for women’s rights and an end to child poverty and economic inequality in the country.

Eight months after becoming prime minister, she was the second elected leader to give birth while in office, after Pakistan’s Benazir Bhutto. Many saw Ardern as part of the wave of progressive female leaders, including Finnish Prime Minister Sanna Marin.

His empathetic leadership style was cemented by his response to the mass shootings at two mosques in Christchurch in 2019 that killed 51 people and injured 40.

“His universal call to human unity with compassion made me cry with joy then, and makes me cry now,” said Farid Ahmed, survivor and husband of a Christchurch attack victim.

“Your kindness, wisdom and efforts for a peaceful world have been an outstanding example for world leaders,” he said. “I understand that she needs rest, and I wish her all the best in her life,” he added.

Ardern quickly labeled the attacks “terrorism” and wore a hijab when he met with the Muslim community the day after the attack, saying the whole country was “united in grief”. She promised and delivered a major gun law reform within a month.

Ardern has won plaudits across the political spectrum for his handling of the Covid-19 pandemic, which has seen the country face some of the strictest measures in the world but which has also resulted in one of the lowest death rates.

But its popularity has waned in the past year as inflation soared to nearly three-decade highs, the central bank aggressively raised interest rates and crime soared.

The country has become increasingly politically divided over issues such as the government’s proposed water infrastructure reform and the introduction of an agricultural emissions program. Ardern and Labor saw their support in opinion polls suffer.

Political commentators say Ardern’s departure will bolster the opposition Conservative National Party but could also give Labor a chance to freshen up and reposition itself ahead of the election.

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Translated to english by RJ983

From Brazil, by EBC News