WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW:
- New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern made a surprise announcement of her resignation.
- She said that she no longer had “enough in the tank” to do her role justice.
- The Labor Party will vote on a new leader, who will be the new prime minister until the general election in October.
New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern made a shocking announcement of her resignation on Thursday.
Ardern declared at a news conference, “This summer, I had hoped to find a way to prepare for not just another year, but another term — because that is what this year requires. I have not been able to do that.”
The prime minister grew emotional as she said that she would no longer seek re-election and will end her term no later than Feb. 7.
Ardern said, “I know what this job takes. And I know that I no longer have enough in the tank to do it justice.”
Ardern, 42, said that she looks forward to being present when her daughter Neve starts school this year, and to tie the knot with her longtime partner, Clarke Gayford. The prime minister had given birth eight months into her tenure.
She acknowledged that there will be speculation about the “real reason” for her resignation.
“The only interesting angle you will find is that after going on six years of some big challenges, that I am human. Politicians are human,” she said. “We give all that we can, for as long as we can, and then it’s time. And for me, it’s time.”
The prime minister said that she believed someone else could do a better job.
On Sunday, the ruling Labor Party will vote for a new leader, who will be the new prime minister until the general election on Oct. 14.
New Zealand Deputy Prime Minister Grant Robertson, who is also the finance minister, said he would not seek the leadership role.
Among potential candidates are current Minister of Justice Kiri Allen and Minister of Education and Police Chris Hipkins, who was also the former COVID minister.
At age 37, Ardern became the world’s youngest female head of government in 2017. She was seen as an empathetic leader who pushed through difficult events during her service.
In 2019, mass shootings in two Christchurch mosques killed 51 people and injured 40. Survivors and grieving families hailed Ardern for her compassion and efforts for peace. Within a month, the prime minister delivered major gun law reform.
Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese said Ardern “has shown the world how to lead with intellect and strength” and that “empathy and insight are powerful leadership qualities.”
Ardern’s handling of the COVID-19 pandemic was also applauded across the world. Her administration placed some of the strictest measures globally, which resulted in one of the lowest death tolls worldwide.
But record inflation and increasing crime rates negatively impacted the popularity of Ardern and the Labor Party over the past year. The nation soon became politically divided over several issues.
Political analysts see Ardern’s resignation as a way to reset the Labor party ahead of the election. But it could also bolster the opposition, the conservative National Party, depending on how the new leader tackles issues.