In an announcement that shocked the world, New Zealand’s Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern declared that she decided to down on 7th February, ahead of the country’s general election taking place on 14th October 2023. Ms Arden said that she does not have “enough in the tank” to continue leading.
Jacinda Ardern was elected as the country’s 40th Prime Minister in October 2017 at the age of 37, making her the youngest female world leader.
“I am human, politicians are human. We give all that we can for as long as we can. And then it’s time. And for me, it’s time,” she said.
During the announcement, Ms Arden went over the challenges she faced during her nearly six-year premiership.
There was the Christchurch mosque terrorist attack in 2019, where 51 people were killed and 49 were injured by a lone shooter who was reportedly a white supremacist. Ms Arden described it as “one of New Zealand’s darkest days.” That same year, New Zealand witnessed one of its volcanos erupt, leading to 22 deaths and 25 injuries.
Then New Zealand received its first case of COVID-19 on 28th February 2020. Ms Arden steered the country through the COVID-19 pandemic and implemented a strict lockdown which closed the country’s borders from the rest of the world for several months.
As the pandemic subsided, she had to manage the country’s looming recession and rising rate of inflation as the gears of the world economy restarted.
“These events… have been taxing because of the weight, the sheer weight and continual nature of them. There’s never really been a moment where it’s ever felt like we were just governing,” added Ms Arden.
Her performance as Prime Minister, especially during the early months of the COVID-19 pandemic, gave her praise both domestically and worldwide. This led to her party winning a clear majority of seats in the country’s 2020 general election. However, the latest polls put her and her party at an all-time low. In a comment to the BBC, Ms Arden said that her declining popularity was the price her Government had paid for keeping people safe from COVID-19.
Others attribute her declining popularity to the cost-of-living crisis, fear of crime and unkept promises. Ms Arden had once promised to introduce free tertiary education, and not to introduce capital gains tax, however, she went back on both those promises during her tenure.
Following her resignation, a candidate will require two-thirds of the New Zealand Labour Party’s caucus’ votes to take her place. If there is no successor elected, then a second vote will take place, which will grant the party’s caucus, its party members, and affiliated unions a say as to who is elected leader.
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