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Jacinda Ardern resigns as Prime Minister of New Zealand

Jacinda Ardern has resigned as the Prime Minister of New Zealand after almost six years in office. The announcement was made on Thursday during the Labour Party’s first caucus of the year, with Ardern stating that she ‘no longer had enough in the tank’ to do the job justice.

She spoke of how she had spent the summer reflecting on whether to continue in office, but ultimately recognised that ‘it was time’ to step down.

Ardern was first elected back in 2017, where she became the world’s youngest female head of government at the age of 37. She has since come to be known as a trailblazer for women in politics, often celebrated for her compassionate and inclusive approach to governing.

One year into her term, Ardern became the second world leader to give birth whilst in office, after the former Prime Minister of Pakistan, Benazir Bhutto. During the 2018 UN General Assembly she brought her new-born with her, becoming ‘the first female world leader’ to do so.

She described her time as Prime Minister as ‘the most fulfilling five and a half years’ of her life, but detailed how this had also been accompanied with its fair amount of challenges.

‘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.’

In 2019 New Zealand was rocked by a terrorist attack in two Christchurch Mosques. The event became the nation’s deadliest mass killing in history, resulting in the loss of 51 lives. With a country in mourning, Ardern was praised for choosing to uphold unity above all else and call the shooting exactly what it was, a terrorist attack on the Muslim community.

When the Covid-19 pandemic hit, Ardern was one of a very few world leaders to immediately call for a nation-wide lockdown.

In turn, New Zealand had one of the lowest number of Covid cases and fatalities across the globe. Her leadership during the pandemic was seen to be one the world’s most successful and later went on to win her a second term in a landslide election victory.

Ardern’s time in office will conclude no later than the 7th of February, with the Labour Party due to elect a new leader and New Zealand’s next Prime Minister on Sunday.

When speaking of the legacy she wished to leave behind, she hoped she would be remembered as a leader 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,’ she concluded.

 

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