A few years ago, if anyone outside of New Zealand was asked who the country's Prime Minister is, very few would have been able to answer the question. But now, the island nation's PM, Jacinda Ardern, is one of the most recognisable and even celebrated world leaders, thanks to her fresh and empathetic style of leadership.
She took the world by surprise while leading New Zealand. Now, once again, she's taken the world by surprise by announcing that she's stepping down from her role, and won't be re-contesting as a PM candidate in the upcoming general elections.
Here's what Jacinda Ardern said while announcing her resignation:
Ardern said that her term will come to an end on February 7, 2023. It isn't known who will replace her, but there are some potential candidates. The announcement comes ahead of general elections scheduled in October.
What!?— Patrick Phillips MD (@DrP_MD) January 19, 2023
Jacinda Ardern announces resignation pic.twitter.com/1mHyVtJD72
Why is Jacinda Ardern resigning? According to Ardern, she's resigning because she believes she won't be able to do justice to the job going forward. She also clarified that she isn't quitting just because the job is tough, but because she believes she won't be able to give her all.
Ardern steered New Zealand through some of the worst crises to hit the country - from the 2019 Christchurch terror attack, the volcanic eruption on White Island or Te Puia o Whakaari to most notably Covid-19.
Jacinda Arden is one of the very, very few political leaders whom I respect and somewhat admire. Some choose to cling to power for as long as they can, no matter how destructive. Others know when to take a step back.— Wabzi Ford (@WabziS) January 19, 2023
She also addressed her child and fiancé in her speech saying:
Ardern became one of the youngest Prime Ministers or heads of state, to ever be elected at 37. She also became only the second world leader to give birth while still in office. About her achievements and an icon as a woman leader, Ardern was quick to say that she's not a superwoman and that it was only possible because of her supportive partner Clarke Gayford, a television host who's she's been engaged with since 2019. Gayford also became a stay-at-home dad to look after their child.
Grateful for NZ PM Jacinda Arden’s leadership during crisis & her values:— Rosemarie North (@RosemarieNorth) January 19, 2023
“I hope I leave NZers 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.” https://t.co/V85l70kqo1
Jacinda Ardern's message for New Zealand:
Political reasons: While Jacinda Ardern's popularity has soared abroad, at home, things aren't that great for the leader. Approval ratings for her government have plummeted in New Zealand as the public accuses Ardern of not fulfilling the promises she made three years ago, especially with regard to decreasing the child poverty rate.
Ardern's Covid-19 policies were also criticised for shutting out New Zealand from the rest of the world for nearly two years. Ardern's policies were deemed too strict, misinformed, and unable to adapt to the changes brought on by Delta and Omicron variants.
Observers say that with the resignation, Ardern may be avoiding a humiliating defeat in the upcoming elections. But regardless of the political reasons, she continues to inspire many in and outside of New Zealand.
Who is Jacinda Ardern? Ardern, born to a Mormon family in a small rural area, rose through the poverty she saw around herself to become a Labour Party leader. And she led the country with empathy, rarely shown by world leaders.