Prime Minister of New Zealand, Jacinda Ardern, has announced her resignation, citing that she no longer has “enough in the tank” to lead.
Ardern was facing mounting political pressures at home and criticism that had not been experienced by previous New Zealand leaders. Still, her announcement came as a shock to people throughout the nation of 5 million people.
Fighting back tears, Ardern disclosed that February 7, 2023 would be her last day as Prime Minister.
“I am entering now my sixth year in office, and for each of those years, I have given my absolute all,” Arden remarked.
Ardern, 42, disclosed that she had taken time to consider her future over the summer break, hoping to find the heart and energy to go on in the role. “But unfortunately I haven’t, and I would be doing a disservice to New Zealand to continue,” she added.
Ardern became an inspiration to women around the world after first winning the Prime Ministerial post in 2017 at the relatively young age of 37. She seemed to represent a new generation of leadership; she was on the verge of being a millennial, had made some records as a part-time disc jockey, and was not married like most politicians.
In 2018, Ardern became the second elected world leader to ever give birth while in office, after Pakistan’s Benazir Bhutto. Later that year, she brought her infant daughter to the floor of the U.N. General Assembly in New York.
In March 2019, Ardern faced one of the darkest days in New Zealand’s history when a white supremacist gunman stormed two mosques in Christchurch and killed 51 people. She was widely praised for the way she empathized with the survivors and New Zealand’s Muslim community in the aftermath.
However, Ardern faced tough re-election prospects. Her center-left Labour Party won reelection in 2020 with a landslide of historic proportions, but recent polls have put her party behind its conservative rivals.
Ardern opined that the role required having a reserve to face the unexpected.
“But I am not leaving because it was hard. Had that been the case I probably would have departed two months into the job. I am leaving because 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.”Jacinda Ardern
Labour MPs To Find Arden’s Replacement
Labour MPs will vote to find Arden’s replacement on Sunday, January 22, 2023. If no candidate gets at least two-thirds support from the caucus, then the leadership contest will go to the wider party membership.
Ardern has recommended that the party chooses her replacement by the time she finishes her role on February 7, 2023.
Ardern also announced that New Zealand’s 2023 general elections would be held on October 14, and that she would remain a lawmaker until then.
Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese opined that Ardern “has shown the world how to lead with intellect and strength.”
Ardern named her government’s achievements on climate change, social housing and reducing child poverty as ones she was particularly proud of. However, she said she hoped her legacy in New Zealand would be “as someone who always tried to be kind”.
“I hope I leave New Zealanders with a belief that you can be kind, but strong, empathetic but decisive, optimistic but focused. And that you can be your own kind of leader; one who knows when it’s time to go.”Jacinda Ardern
Ardern divulged that she did not have any immediate plans after leaving office, other than family commitments with her daughter, Neve, and to get married to her fiancé, Clarke Gayford, after an outbreak of the virus destroyed their earlier wedding plans.