WELLINGTON, Jan 21 (Reuters) – Chris Hipkins, who played a major role in New Zealand’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic, will replace Jacinda Ardern as prime minister after emerging on Saturday as the only candidate to lead the ruling Labor Party. .
Hipkins, 44, is expected to be confirmed as leader at a meeting of all 64 Labor lawmakers, or Caucus, on Sunday, replacing Ardern, who made a surprise advertisement on Thursday that he “had no more in the tank” to lead the country and would resign.
“I think we are an incredibly strong team,” Hipkins said at a news conference after the party announced him as the only candidate.
“We have gone through this process with unity and will continue to do so. I feel very fortunate to work with such an incredible group of people who have a real commitment to serving the people of New Zealand.”
Known as “Chippy,” Hipkins built a reputation for competence in the fight against COVID-19 and was a problem solver for Ardern when other cabinet ministers were struggling.
He would not get carried away by his political plans. A cabinet reshuffle proposed by Ardern would take place, but he said he planned to keep Grant Robertson as finance minister.
Hipkins said he had spoken with Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese, who tweeted that the two had “a warm discussion”.
First elected to parliament for the Labor Party in 2008, Hipkins became a household name in the face of the government’s response to the pandemic. He was appointed health minister in July 2020 before becoming the COVID response minister later in the year.
He is now minister of police, education and public service, as well as leader of the Chamber.
A Horizon Research snapshot poll obtained by local media organization Stuff on Friday showed Hipkins to be the most popular potential candidate among voters, with the support of 26% of those polled.
While Ardern was popular early in his five-year tenure, his ratings have fallen due to a backlash to tight COVID restrictions, rising costs of living and mortgage rates, and concerns about crime.
rural voterswho passed to Labor in 2020 after Ardern’s early success against COVID, have been furious with the party, angered by increasing environmental and other government regulations.
Hipkins has a big challenge ahead of her, New Zealand’s Eva Murphy said in Auckland.
“He will never fill Jacinda’s shoes and it will be interesting to see what comes out of the Labor Party in terms of the election campaign over the next year, and we’re looking forward to seeing what happens,” he said.
Hipkins’ confirmation by Labor lawmakers on Sunday afternoon is expected to be a formality. Ardern will then submit his resignation to the Governor-General of New Zealand before he appoints Hipkins.
If confirmed, Hipkins will be prime minister until the end of the party’s term.
General elections will be held on October 1. On January 14, with some opinion polls showing the Labor Party trailing the opposition New Zealand National Party.
A Taxpayers Union-Curia poll released on Friday, based on data prior to Ardern’s resignation announcement, showed Labor’s popularity fell to 31.7%, behind the Nationals at 37.2%.
The Green Party of New Zealand, Labour’s traditional coalition partner, said in a statement that they were looking forward to working with Hipkins.
“Chris will make an excellent Prime Minister and we look forward to continuing our work together, through the remainder of this term and the next,” said Green Party co-leader James Shaw.
Reporting by Lucy Craymer; Additional reporting by Jill Gralow in Auckland; Edited by Deepa Babington, Rosalba O’Brien, and William Mallard
Our standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.
Leave a Comment