prime minister of new zealand jacinda ardern has said he will resign, in a shock announcement that came as he confirmed national elections for October this year.
At the party’s annual caucus meeting on Thursday, Ardern said he “didn’t have enough in the tank anymore” to get the job done. “It’s time,” she said.
“I am leaving, because with such a privileged role comes responsibility. The responsibility of knowing when you are the right person to lead and also when you are not. I know what this job requires. And I know I don’t have enough in the tank anymore to do it justice. It is that simple,” she said.
Her term as prime minister will expire no later than February 7, but she will continue as a deputy until this year’s elections.
“I am human, politicians are human. We give everything we can for as long as we can. And then it’s time. And for me, it’s time,” he said. Ardern said that she had reflected over the summer break on whether she had the energy to continue in the role and had come to the conclusion that she did not.
Ardern became the world’s youngest head of government when she was elected prime minister in 2017 at age 37. she has led New Zealand through the Covid-19 pandemic and major disasters, including the terrorist attack on two mosques in Christchurch and the White Island volcanic eruption.
“These have been the most rewarding five and a half years of my life. But it has also had its challenges: between an agenda focused on housing, child poverty, and climate change, we find ourselves with a…domestic terrorist event, a major natural disaster, a global pandemic, and an economic crisis,” he said. .
Asked how he would like New Zealanders to remember his leadership, Ardern said “as someone who always tried to be nice.”
“I hope to leave New Zealanders with the belief that they 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,” Ardern said.
During the past year, Ardern has faced a significant increase in threats of violence, particularly from conspiracy theorists and anti-vaccine groups enraged by the country’s vaccine mandates and Covid-19 lockdowns. However, he said the greater risk associated with the job was not behind his decision to resign.
“I don’t want to leave the impression that the adversity you face in politics is the reason people leave. Yes, it has an impact. After all, we are human, but that was not the basis of my decision,” she said.
Ardern said she had no plans for the future, other than to spend more time with her family.
He thanked his partner, Clarke Gayford, and their daughter Neve, whom he gave birth to while in office, as “the most sacrificed of all of us.”
“To Neve: Mum can’t wait to be there when you start school this year. And to Clarke, let’s get married at last.”
The prime minister’s announcement comes as New Zealand enters a hotly contested election year, with the date of the vote set for October 14. The polls of the last few months had placed the Ardern-led Labor Party slightly behind the National opposition.
Ardern said his decline in the polls was not behind the decision to leave.
“I’m not leaving because I think we can’t win the election, but because I believe we can and we will, and we need a new set of shoulders for that challenge,” he said.
It is not yet clear who will replace Ardern: Deputy Leader and Finance Minister Grant Robertson, who would be considered a leading candidate for the job, said on Thursday he would not seek the job. In a statement, he said: “I am not running for the leadership of the Labor Party.”
The Labor Caucus now has seven days to find out if a new candidate has more than two-thirds of the support within the caucus to become the new leader and prime minister. Three days from now, on January 22, a caucus vote will be held to choose a new leader. If no one reaches that threshold level of support, the leadership race will go to the general Labor membership.
National Opposition Leader Christopher Luxon said Ardern had “made a significant contribution to New Zealand, in what is difficult and demanding work” and called her a “strong ambassador for New Zealand on the world stage”.
“Her leadership after the Christchurch terrorist attacks was both strong and compassionate, and it is something she can be proud of,” she said.
Australia’s Prime Minister Anthony Albanese paid tribute to Ardern, saying he “has shown the world how to lead with intellect and strength.”
“She has shown that empathy and insight are powerful leadership qualities,” he said.
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