January 19, (THEWILL) – New Zealand Prime Minister, Jacinda Ardern, on Thursday, announced plans to resign her position as PM, no later than February 7, saying she no longer had “enough in the tank” to do the job.
Ardern, 42, has become a global progressive icon since her election in 2017 and won praise for her handling of the nation’s worst mass shooting and the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic.
But her approval ratings have plummeted at home, jeopardising her re-election prospects and intensifying the vitriolic abuse she has experienced throughout her time in office.
But in surprise announcement on Thursday, in Napier, Ardern said she would resign and would not seek re-election to Parliament later this year.
“I’m 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.
“I know what this job takes, and I know that I no longer have enough in the tank to do it justice.
“This has been the most fulfilling 5½ years of my life, but it has also had its challenges.
“Among an agenda focused on housing, child poverty and climate change, we encountered a major biosecurity incursion, a domestic terror event, a major natural disaster, a global pandemic and an economic crisis.
“The decisions that have had to be made have been continual, and they have been weighty”, she said at her party’s first caucus meeting of the year on Thursday,
The Labour Party will vote for a new leader on Sunday. If that person receives more than two-thirds of caucus support, Ardern said, she will resign soon after and the new leader will be sworn in as prime minister. Otherwise, the vote will go to the wider party membership.
Ardern said she plans to remain in Parliament until April, avoiding the need for a snap vote in her suburban Auckland electorate. Beyond that, she said, she has no plans other than spending time with family.
She was the world’s second elected head of government to give birth while in office, bringing her 3-month-old daughter, Neve, to the floor of the United Nations General Assembly in New York in 2018.
Eight months after becoming prime minister, Ardern became the second elected leader to give birth while in office, after Pakistan’s Benazir Bhutto.
Ardern, who was the world’s youngest female leader when she
first took office, has faced a number of challenges including the mass shooting at two mosques in Christchurch that killed 51 people, a deadly volcanic eruption, an outbreak of cattle disease and the coronavirus.
“Her international reputation in many ways has been made out of dealing with things that no one would have wanted”, said Grant Duncan, an associate professor at Massey University in Auckland