Because of her empathetic nature and her successful crisis management, she quickly made a name for herself internationally.
Bangkok Jacinda Ardern ended an extraordinary political career with a trembling voice – for a reason equally unusual for leading politicians. She did her best as New Zealand’s prime minister, but the role also demanded a lot from her, said the Social Democrat, who became the world’s youngest female prime minister when she was elected in 2017, aged 37.
“I know what this job requires and I know I don’t have enough left in the tank to do it justice,” she said, on the verge of tears. She therefore wants to hand over official business to a successor by early February.
His admission that he no longer had the strength to work as head of government came as a complete surprise to political observers in New Zealand. However, the willingness to publicly admit personal weaknesses befits the exceptional politician, who has found international recognition with his empathetic political style.
Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese praised Ardern for his intellect and strength following the announcement of his retirement. Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau thanked her for “sensitive, strong and consistent leadership”.
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Ardern became the first prime minister in decades to give birth to a child while in office. Three months after the birth, she took her baby to the United Nations General Assembly. After the assassination attempt on a right-wing extremist that shot dead 51 Muslims in Christchurch, she found the right words and symbols. The country is united in grief, she said. When meeting with relatives, the politician, who describes herself as irreligious, wore the hijab, traditional in Islam.
Jacinda Ardern wants to be a model: “The one who knows when it’s time to leave”
At her farewell press conference, Ardern stressed the importance of this kind of accessible politics for her. She hopes she has shown New Zealanders “that you can be kind but strong, sensitive but determined, optimistic but focused”, she said. She also wants to model being a different kind of leader: “One who knows when it’s time to go.”
In her emotional speech, she showed herself exhausted: “I am human, politicians are human. We’re giving it all we can — while we can,” she said. Now it’s time for her to draw a line.
Prime Minister Jacida Ardern announces resignation
Ardern’s five-and-a-half-year tenure was characterized by an almost non-stop crisis mode. The coronavirus pandemic was by far the biggest challenge. Under Ardern, New Zealand chose the special path of a strict zero Covid policy, which only a few other countries such as Australia and China had achieved. It almost completely isolated the island state of five million people for two years. It managed to keep the number of infections and deaths very low for a long time – even today, the country has had 60% fewer deaths from corona than Germany relative to the size of the population since the beginning of the pandemic.
But Ardern was willing to use extreme means to succeed in containment: In August 2021, after a single case of Covid became known, it imposed a multi-day nationwide lockdown.
Ardern’s management of the corona crisis was initially popular: in October 2020 it achieved a historic election victory. His Labor Party won an outright majority for the first time in decades. However, Ardern’s popularity ratings declined. This is the price for protecting the country from Covid-19, the head of government, who has repeatedly been the target of misogynistic hostility, said in an interview last year.
Opposition Conservatives Lead Polls
But they were also under pressure from the sharply rising cost of living and accusations that their fight against crime was too lax. Current polls put the conservative opposition ahead of parliamentary elections scheduled for October 14. However, Ardern stressed that her resignation should not mean that she already sees the election as lost. “I’m not leaving because I don’t think we can win the election, but because I believe Labor can and will win it,” she said. But “new shoulders” are needed to face the challenges.
Jacinda Ardern with partner Clarke Gayford
“You can and should only do the work when you have a full tank.”
(Photo: Getty Images)
Who will lead the party – and therefore the country – until elections must be decided in the coming days. A first vote on the party’s leadership is scheduled for Sunday. If no candidate obtains a two-thirds majority, the party base will decide – a process that must be completed by February 7th. Favorites include Chris Hipkins, who is in charge of implementing corona measures in Ardern’s cabinet, and Justice Minister Kiri Allan.
Ardern did not comment on his future professional plans. However, she announced that she wanted to spend more time with her family – they likely would have suffered more from her position. She finally wants to make up for the wedding with her partner that was planned because of the corona pandemic.
More: Politician of the Year 2020 – Jacinda Ardern’s re-election is encouraging
First published on 1/19/23 at 1:29 AM.